Historically black college in Missouri is using federal COVID-19 relief funding to eliminate student debt starting in the 2020 academic year.

Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis, one of the state’s two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), used the funding to write off more than $ 330,000 in debt, KCUR reported.

“A lot of our students were saying they couldn’t work – because of COVID-19 they lost their jobs,” said LaTonia Collins Smith, acting president of Harris-Stowe, noting the “insurmountable burden” caused by the pandemic.

“As a result, they were unable to make payments on their balances for the previous semester or semesters that were affected by COVID-19,” Collins added.

Smith told exit school staff spent about a week reassuring parents and students that the debt cancellation was not a hoax.


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“Just knowing that you could take the pressure off a student a little bit and everything he was going through was amazing to us,” Smith said. “Cases like this helped us know we had done the right thing.”

The university’s action eliminated an average of $ 1,076 per student.

Lincoln University in Jefferson City, the state’s other HBCU, announced in July that it was using federal relief funds to write off about $ 1.5 million in student debt for nearly 930 students, KOMU reported.

“Our founders used the funds they had to provide the opportunity to study in 1866. We are doing the same for our students in 2021, thanks to the CARES Act,” said Acting Lincoln University President John Moseley.


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