Howard University Becomes Latest HBCU to Use Pandemic Funds to Cancel Student Debt

Howard University announced earlier this month that it would use federal Covid relief funds to cancel debt for juniors and seniors facing economic hardship, Insider reports.

The Washington-based college said it will wipe out institutional debts for juniors and seniors who suffered financially during the pandemic if they have an expected family contribution of $0.

"We take our responsibility to our community, and to all those who place their trust in us for their education or employment, very seriously," said Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick. "Howard will always devote as much of our resources as we can to minimize the challenges our staff and students encounter."

It’s unclear how much the plan will cost.

Howard University said in a press release that it has already distributed $27 million in direct cash payments, waived fees, and other services.

Over 20 HBCUs using relief to bail out students:

Howard joins more than 20 historically Black colleges and universities that have used the federal pandemic relief funds to cancel student debt, according to CNN.

The schools have paid out more than $25 million thus far.

HBCUs clearing student debt "helps break the cycle of debt and a lack of individual and generational wealth that exists in the African American community today," said David Sheppard, chief legal officer and chief of staff at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. As a result, students "have the ability to not only select a career in their chosen field of study, but be more selective in the job they can choose. They don't have to jump at the first job that will help them clear debt.”

Biden has canceled over $9B in student debt:

Though President Joe Biden has resisted Democratic calls to cancel student debt, the administration has wiped out more than $9 billion in student debt since January.

Last week, the Department of Education canceled $1.1 billion debt for 115,000 borrowers at ITT Technical Institute, which is now defunct.

The department also announced plans to forgive $5.8 billion in federal student loans for over 300,000 disabled borrowers.

The department said all of its initiatives will cancel $9 billion in debt for more than 563,000 borrowers.


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