US Education Department Releases Historically Black Colleges & Universities of Over $1.6 Billion Debt

Nearly $1.6 billion of debt held by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that joined the HBCU Capital Financing Program has been discharged by the US Department of Education, the latter has announced through a press release.

According to the release, 45 HBCUs from which 13 public institutions and 32 private institutions will benefit from this decision, reports.

This action aims to help institutions use their finances to support students, staff, and faculty during the COVID-19 national emergency. It also intends to enable them to focus more funds on innovating academic experience, supporting their students’ socio-emotional development, as well as continue as the leading producers of Black doctors and teachers “during a time when the United States needs them most.

20 institutions that will receive debt discharge include:

  1. Alabama A&M University
  2. Allen University
  3. Alabama State University
  4. Arkansas Baptist College
  5. Saint Augustine’s University
  6. Benedict College
  7. Bennett College
  8. Bethune–Cookman University
  9. Barber-Scotia College
  10. Central State University
  11. Claflin University
  12. Clark Atlanta University
  13. Florida A&M University
  14. Florida Memorial University
  15. Grambling State University
  16. Hampton University
  17. Harris–Stowe State University
  18. Huston-Tillotson University
  19. Jarvis Christian College
  20. Johnson C. Smith University

Others include Lane College, Lawson State Community College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Livingstone College, Meharry Medical College, Miles College, Morgan State University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Philander Smith College, South Carolina State University, Shaw University, Stillman College, Southern University at Baton Rouge, Southern University at Shreveport, Talladega College, Texas College, Texas Southern University, Tuskegee University, University of the Virgin Islands, Virginia Union University, Voorhees College, Wilberforce University, Wiley College, Xavier University of Louisiana.

The Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said that HBCUs for a long time have financially been on an “uneven playing field” in comparison to other postsecondary institutions.

“This relief will further support these mission-critical institutions and help to ensure they have more resources to educate and graduate students during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” Cardona said.

The discharge of HBCUs debts under the HBCU Capital Financing Program was made possible through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) signed into law in December 2020, which gave the authority and funding for the discharge.

In addition to this discharge, HBCUs will also receive over $5 billion through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund programs, funds offered through the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The press release points out that HBCU Capital Financing Program has provided low-cost loans to finance and refinance infrastructure improvements at the HBCUs across the nation since 1994.

Recently, the US Department of Education notified about the zero percent interest rate on federal student loans and the collections of all defaulted loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, as well as announced debt relief for student loaners with disabilities.

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