SALISBURY – Livingstone College will provide a clean slate for students who have registered for classes during the spring semester.
Livingstone announced on Friday that it would spend about $ 2.8 million in COVID-19 relief funding to write off balances owed to the college by students who attended in the just ended semester. To take advantage of the debt relief initiative, students must sign a return document no later than Thursday. Debt cancellation applies to money owed to the school rather than to third party loan providers.
The funding will complement more than $ 4 million per year in needs-based assistance that Livingstone already provides to students who are over-borrowing.
“The economic hardship created by the COVID-19 virus is unprecedented and has made it extremely difficult for students to pursue their dreams of getting a college education during this time of economic uncertainty,” said Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins , in a letter to eligible students. “The people we serve depend heavily on student loans to pay for their college education. Therefore, as we look forward to the fall academic semester 2021, we would like to remove one of the biggest persistence barriers – student debt.
A historically black college, Livingstone serves approximately 1,100 undergraduate students. Data from the US Department of Education shows that Livingstone students have a median total debt of between $ 29,750 and $ 35,500 after graduation, which includes balances owed to parties other than college. .
Traditionally, the college has allowed students to enroll in classes even if they have unpaid bills, said senior vice president and chief operating officer Anthony Davis. Friday’s announcement means all students will be able to enroll in fall classes without outstanding pay, Davis said.
“Access and affordability must work in tandem,” he said. “The population we serve has been significantly affected by this pandemic. Therefore, we deploy all possible resources to support our students and their families. “
When asked if a similar initiative would be possible after an upcoming semester if the school receives more relief funds, Davis said, “We are looking at all available resources to make an impact on students and families who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus. “
The funding package used for the debt cancellation initiative comes from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Assistance Fund. It’s money meant to help students affected by the pandemic, Davis said. Livingstone’s share is a small portion of the $ 14 billion allocated to the Higher Education Emergency Aid Fund when the CARES Act was passed by Congress and enacted in March 2020.