HBCU Uses COVID-19 Funds to Clear Student Debt

This is the second time North Carolina's Fayetteville State University has used pandemic relief funds to wipe out student debt.

July 12, 2022 · Updated on July 12, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
HBCU Uses COVID-19 Funds to Clear Student Debt
COVID-19

  • Over two years, Fayetteville State University has paid off debts for more than 2,300 students by using money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
  • In total, the school has cleared more than $3.2 million in outstanding balances.
  • The school said, "financial barriers are the number one obstacle our students must overcome to achieve their dream of earning a college degree."

A North Carolina university will for the second time use COVID-19 pandemic relief funds to clear the outstanding balances of its students.

Fayetteville State University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU), announced last week that it will use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to pay outstanding balances for students who attended the school from summer 2021 to spring 2022.

"Financial barriers are the number one obstacle our students must overcome to achieve their dream of earning a college degree," Fayetteville State University Chancellor Darrell T. Allison said in the release. "We will do all we can to help keep our costs down for our students making their path to a degree more accessible. Assisting in our students' financial independence in such a tangible and meaningful way is not only rewarding, but also the right thing to do."

The university has now cleared more than $3.28 million in outstanding balances for 2,367 students using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act's Higher Education Relief Fund III (HEERF III), according to the release.

“Fayetteville State is among a growing list of institutions using the latest round of HEERF grants to provide relief to underserved students.”

The American Rescue Plan allocated nearly $40 billion in HEERF grants to colleges and universities, including $198 million to be distributed throughout 2022. While half of the funds are to be distributed directly to students through financial aid, colleges and universities can choose to use the rest to support students through other means.

HEERF institutional funding can be used broadly by universities that received it, according to the U.S. Department of Education, including paying off student debt and fees, as well as to "support additional academic or mental health support systems that will help students to overcome additional barriers that have arisen as a result of coronavirus that may otherwise prevent them from completing their education."

Fayetteville State is among a growing list of institutions using the latest round of HEERF grants to provide relief to underserved students.

In Ohio, HBCU Central State University used $4.1 million in HEERF funds to erase student debt. Community College of Philadelphia last month used $1.4 million in relief funds to erase the debts of 1,900 students. Austin Community College in Texas this month used roughly $1 million in HEERF funding to help students pay for summer classes.