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Allocation of Federal Pandemic Relief Funds Remains Unclear

By Loretta Bonifacio


In a recent budget report, Vice Chancellor John al-Amin clarified that federal relief from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) must be spent exclusively on college services impacted by COVID-19-and all before the package expires in May.


At a Feb. 25 Board of Trustees meeting, al-Amin listed resources and services that could be funded, including emergency financial aid grants, laptops and tablets for students and teachers, non-tuition revenue loss, improved campus internet, and online instruction support training for faculty and staff.


Federal guidelines prohibit City College from using the funds for reimbursements, tuition discounts, replacing lost revenue from reduced enrollment, hiring more instructors, or increasing campus hours of operation. 


In late March, al-Amin is expected to present a final expenditures plan to the board.


Since April 2020, City College has received emergency funds totaling $25.7 million. The federal government supplied approximately $23.3 million to the college from the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March 2020. 


The initial HEERF package was established through the CARES Act and awarded $7 million to the college. Later, $16.2 million was given when the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act provided new HEERF II funding in December 2020.


The discussion over the use of funds has been extensive. The Rebuild City College campaign, organized in part by English instructor Stephanie MacAller, implores administrators to invest a minimum of $7 million back into student aid. 


Rebuild City College aims to fulfill the needs of BIPOC (Black; Indigenous; People of Color) students, reclaim the budget, preserve jobs, and stabilize the college’s operations for future generations. MacAller says this can only be achieved if a “student-, faculty-, staff-driven, detailed and realistic HEERF budget” is created immediately.


Connect with MacAller and the Rebuild City College campaign at


Send funding suggestions to Vice-Chancellor John al-Amin at


The next BoT meeting is scheduled for March 25.


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