On Friday, Howard University announced that it would be using funds it received from President Joe Biden's stimulus plan to erase the debt students owe the school. Since the Education Department announced in March that colleges could use the funds to cancel student debts, HBCUs have been offering financial relief to their student body.
In an official statement, Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a statement that students whose families contribute $0 and are currently carrying an outstanding balance for the spring 2021 semester, will have their current debt erased as well.
“Howard University is committed to holistically supporting our students and removing barriers they may encounter on the road to graduation,” Frederick wrote an email to students. “During the course of the pandemic, we know that many students experienced unforeseen financial hardships that put their plans for pursuing higher education in jeopardy.
“In total, we have distributed over $27 million in direct cash payments, waived fees, emergency housing and meal assistance, and provided other supportive services to students since March 2020 to ensure they could afford their education and living expenses,” he continued. “I am pleased to announce that Howard is continuing these efforts by alleviating more student debt with the intent of increasing the chances for students to complete their degree programs.”
Over 20 HBCUs have canceled institutional debts with federal funds while the debate around federal student debt is taking place in Congress. Disproportionately, student loan debt has impacted Black borrowers. CultureBanx reported that students of color typically take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, which makes them unable to focus on other financial goals like buying a home, paying off credit card debt, and investing. To address the student loan crisis, Democrats have proposed at least five changes to student loan cancellation including $50,000 forgiveness for each borrower.
As his statement continued, Frederick noted that Howard is devoted to utilizing all the resources at their disposal to ease the financial burden of their students
“We take our responsibility to our community, and to all those who place their trust in us for their education or employment, very seriously,” he concluded. “Howard will always devote as much of our resources as we can to minimize the challenges our staff and students encounter.”