Many colleges and universities are using Covid-19 relief funds provided by the federal government to clear unpaid student balances during the pandemic. The City University of New York, Delaware State University, and Virginia State University are just a few institutions that have taken this step in recent days, and experts predict that this trend will spread to more campuses.
David K. Sheppard, Chief Legal Officer and Chief of Staff of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said: “I doubt you will see more schools adopt this initiative to help students affected by the pandemic. .” It represents black colleges and universities in history.
Debt forgiveness does not extend to private or federal student loans. It is achieved through a pool of funds allocated to universities by Congress — most recently through the American Relief Program Act of 2022 — and some of it can only be used for direct student assistance.
Hundreds of dollars in campus debt is enough to eclipse students’ educational prospects. And Covid makes things worse. December survey It was found that students’ concerns about their ability to pay tuition only increased during the fall semester.
Makola M. Abdullah, president of HBCU, said that at Virginia State University, administrators found an increase in the number of students who had difficulty paying their account balances during the school year. Abdullah witnessed the dilemma of unemployment, insufficient Internet access and financial insecurity. He said he did not want these struggles to hinder students from continuing their education.
Sheppard said HBCU serves a disproportionate number of first-generation and low-income students. He said: “First of all, the group of students you have to face does not have many resources to use. This is a normal situation before the pandemic.” “So when the pandemic hits, these students will have more difficulty coping with its impact.”
For many institutions, the solution is to start liquidating student balances. “No matter what we can do to help students return to campus, we want to do it,” Abdullah said. “We don’t want their financial situation to determine whether they can return to school to complete their studies, or in some cases, start their education,” he said.
Virginia spend Approximately US$1.5 million was used to repay the debts of approximately 1,200 students, accounting for a large part of the enrollment, which is approximately 5,400 students. According to Abdullah, nearly 70% of the university’s students are eligible for need-based Pell grants.
But Abdullah emphasized that Virginia State University has emulated similar institutions, such as Norfolk State University. US$2.5 million allocated In June, when the student balance was cleaned up, Virginia Union University announced that it would use $6.35 million to eliminate debts for more than 1,300 students in the same month.
Delaware State University officials Announce It will relieve the institution of up to $730,655 of debt for recent graduates who are facing difficulties during the pandemic. For Semaj Hazzard, president of the university’s student union, the initiative provides students with “the rest time they deserve.”
Hazard said: “Let us make it easier, so that people from different backgrounds, they may not be able to afford college fees, they can afford college fees.”
It’s not just HBCU that gives students a break. Community colleges, state universities, and private colleges have followed suit to provide services to students in need.
Philadelphia Community College announced that it will use institutional funds to repay more than $2.75 million in outstanding account balances for approximately 3,500 students.The City University of New York also plans Eliminate up to $125 million in outstanding debt There are at least 50,000 students and recent graduates of this huge system.
Federal funds are undoubtedly a help. But some experts say that as the country recovers from the pandemic, policymakers should do more to help key institutions in economically disadvantaged communities.A sort of policy suggestion The Brookings Institution (a non-profit public policy organization) proposes to provide $25-50 million in federal grants to regional public universities in these communities, paid within five years. Robert Maxim, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the program, said: “Supporting many of these places and many institutions requires more than passing a one-off bill. “.
At the same time, the Ministry of Education Announce On Thursday, new relief payments of $3.2 billion were paid. Among them, 1.6 billion U.S. dollars will be spent on historically black colleges and universities, 143 million U.S. dollars will be spent on tribal colleges, and 1.19 billion U.S. dollars will be spent on other minority services and institutions with insufficient resources.