Community colleges across the country are leveraging federal coronavirus relief dollars to forgive student debt accrued during the pandemic, a move some administrators hope will stanch continuing enrollment declines at the two-year institutions.
The money, available through both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the more recent American Rescue Plan Act, allows eligible colleges to wipe out student debt and provides grants directly to students in need. At El Paso Community College in Texas, for example, administrators cleared more than $3 million in debt for roughly 4,700 students over the summer using CARES Act funding, then encouraged eligible students to apply for additional financial aid via allocations from ARPA.
“Students have been adversely affected by the pandemic and we want them to be able to stay on their path to completing their degree,” Keri Moe, the college’s associate vice president of external relations, communication and development, said in a statement. “We want to help students find the resources to emerge from the pandemic, regain financial stability and to be able to continue to pursue their dreams.”
Other two-year colleges have announced similar measures. Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, a 17-campus system with a mix of two- and four-year colleges, said in July it would forgive $17 million in debt that community college students “took on or could not repay because of the pandemic.” The policy will impact more than 18,000 students, with no strings attached and no requirement that recipients enroll in classes in the future.
Read the full article about community colleges erasing student debt by Kate Elizabeth Queram at The 74.
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