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, has announced it 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.
Enrollment at community colleges has suffered throughout the pandemic, with numbers continuing to slide despite widespread vaccine availability.
The continuing decline is a concern for community colleges, which typically see enrollment increases during recessions as unemployed workers return to school to learn new skills.
But the pandemic proved difficult for traditional community college students to weather.
“They lost jobs, suffered food insecurity, and lacked access to vital services — to say nothing of the devastating harm caused to those afflicted with the virus,” Dr. Jane Gates, provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs at Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said in a statement.
Technical colleges in Madison and Milwaukee, the Community College of Philadelphia and Bergen Community College in Paramus, N.J., have also announced plans to use federal dollars to cancel debt.
Some four-year colleges have also utilized relief money to erase debt.
“This is a tremendous weight I won’t have to carry,” Romaun Myers, one of more than 2,500 South Carolina State students to have debt cleared, told the university in a statement.
Kate Elizabeth Queram writes for Route Fifty, a digital news publication that aims to connect the people and ideas advancing state, county and municipal government across the United States. This story is part of the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous reporting about responses to social problems. It originally appeared here.