The philanthropic Heckscher Foundation for Children has committed $100,000 to cover tuition and fees at The City University of New York for students who left Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after this year’s devastating hurricanes.
At the behest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the CUNY Board of Trustees voted last month to allow these students to attend at in-state tuition rates. The University then applied for the Heckscher grant to cover costs above whatever the students receive in federal Pell grants.
“The generosity of the Heckscher Foundation for Children will make a big difference for displaced students who choose to pursue their college education at CUNY,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “They are far from their homes. Their lives and their families have been disrupted. But thanks to this grant, they will be able to continue their college education tuition-free. I can’t imagine a more humane response for people who have lost so much.”
Heckscher Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Sloane said: “We are pleased to provide this catalytic support for displaced students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who wish to continue their studies at CUNY. We hope that the tuition relief this grant affords will help our students from the affected territories get through this difficult period for them and their families.”
CUNY’s grant application estimated that $100,000 would cover the unmet costs of about 80 students. In addition to the grant, CUNY is also making laboratory and other space available to University of Puerto Rico faculty and is setting up a grant process for collaborative work on recovery issues. All CUNY colleges have been involved in University-wide relief efforts.
The university and New York City have close associations with the Caribbean islands. The Puerto Rican community has long been one of the most vibrant in New York, and no city in the country has more native-born citizens whose families came from the Virgin Islands. CUNY has about 16,000 current undergraduates who identify as Puerto Rican.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the CUNY School of Professional Studies.