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College aid may be better than thought

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees heard Thursday that the state and federal aid situations impacting the college’s budget may be better than originally thought.

In a Finance Committee report, Trustee Roberta Winsman said the process to develop the proposed FMCC 2021-22 budget has begun. She said a draft document will be presented to the board by May.

But Winsman said her committee is now “excited” about the college being notified that the state’s 20 percent “holdbacks” instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic may actually be coming back to FMCC.

In his monthly report, FMCC Acting President Greg Truckenmiller said that he and Trustee Taiyebah Ghazi-Maghadam attended a virtual meeting Thursday about budget advocacy. He said they heard from SUNY officials on the latest financial situation impacting state institutions of higher learning.

Truckenmiller said the state indicated that more aid money may be coming from the federal government, filtered down through the state, than originally expected. He said New York state was originally only supposed to receive about $6 billion, but that figure has basically doubled to between $12-$16 billion.

He said some of the cuts made to FMCC’s $22 million in aid may be restructured, as well as the $4 million for smaller programs.

“This is an opportunity,” Truckenmiller said. “Nothing is a done deal yet.”

The board also conducted a mini-retreat Thursday night to discuss the budget process.

Truckenmiller said the SUNY officials also discussed additional COVID funding in New York state for “higher education.” He said that in addition to $3 million, there “may be additional dollars.” Just like when the CARES Act was passed last year, he said there may be over $800,000 or more disbursed directly to students impacted by COVID.

The president seemed bolstered by the good financial news, adding: “It’s more optimistic news than we’ve had in the past.”

Truckenmiller alluded to the 20 percent “holdbacks” by the state, which he said may also result now in the release of previously held state grant program dollars.

“We’re looking forward to that as we build our budget for the next year,” he stated.

Elsewhere in his report, Truckenmiller mentioned the ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations being administered on the FMCC campus the last several weeks. He said the sixth such effort was conducted Thursday by the Fulton County Public Health Department. He said 1,000 doses of COVID vaccine have now been administered on campus.

“We’re happy to be part of that effort,” Truckenmiller said.

COVID testing is also being done daily on the campus, and FMCC is doing “very good,” Truckenmiller said. He said zero positive cases have been reported the last seven days.

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