Delaware State University will cancel over $700,000 in student debt for pandemic financial hardships.
This amounts to about $3,276 in cancelation for each eligible students, which encompass recent graduates.
The university is using Biden's stimulus funds to deliver this financial relief to its students.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona issued guidance in March allowing colleges and universities to use funds from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan for a variety of student needs, including grants and scholarships.
Delaware State University (DSU) has decided to use those funds to cancel student debt.
On Wednesday, DSU officials announced they would be canceling up to $730,655 in student debt for recently graduated students who faced financial hardships during the pandemic. Antonio Boyle, Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management, estimated that the average eligible student would qualify for about $3,276 in student debt relief.
"Too many graduates across the country will leave their schools burdened by debt, making it difficult for them to rent an apartment, cover moving costs, or otherwise prepare for their new careers or graduate school," Boyle said in a statement. "While we know our efforts won't help with all of their obligations, we all felt it was essential to do our part."
The university's president, Tony Allen, noted in the announcement that DSU hasn't raised its tuition in over six years, it gives every incoming student an iPad or a Macbook, and it's transitioning its textbooks to less expensive online versions, showing how debt cancelation aligns with the university's efforts to keep college affordable.
Cardona's March guidance said that higher education institutions can use stimulus funding for "financial aid grants to dual enrollment, continuing education, non-degree seeking, or non-credit students, as well as to a broad range of students with exceptional needs, such as certain refugees or persons granted asylum," along with discharging unpaid institutional student debt.
"Many students have had their postsecondary careers turned upside down as they manage their schoolwork while also protecting themselves from this virus," Cardona said in a statement. "We hope every eligible student takes advantage of these benefits while continuing to focus on their studies."
While DSU is exercising its authority to forgive institutional debt - debt owed directly to the university, rather than to the government or a private lender - federal student loan debt currently amounts to $1.7 trillion in the US. The Education and Justice Departments are reviewing Biden's authority to cancel federal debt, but the president has not yet announced a timeline for doing so.
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