Everett Community College (EvCC) is using institutional Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to cancel $1.2 million in student debt for more than 3,000 students who attend classes spring quarter 2020 through summer quarter 2021, according to the school’s press release.
EvCC President Daria Willis explained that the pandemic has hit their students hard, personally and financially. Students have lost jobs, faced food insecurity and some battled the COVID-19 infection.
EvCC is one of an increasing number of community colleges using the funds to eliminate student debt. This action is also supported by the U.S. Department of Education who is encouraging institutions to use HEERF funds to cancel student debt in support of students facing challenges due to the pandemic.
Student’s who are getting their debt forgiven are offered financial literacy resources to help prevent them from accruing future debt. Willis wants to help students to regain financial stability and get the financial stability and education they need to emerge from the pandemic successfully.
One-third of students at the school are students of color, and half of the students who owed tuition and fees were students of color, meaning that the student debt was disproportionately held by students of color.
Additionally, any students who are enrolled in Fall quarter classes who have battled with financial hardship because of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for up to $2,500 in federal funding for tuition, housing, and other educational expenses such as a laptop for online learning.
The release concluded by explaining that they are also using HEERF funding to provide free on-campus housing for the 2021-22 academic year for current students enrolled in 12 or more credits. Students are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress and enroll in a Learning Community with monthly educational programs.