The latest Historically Black College and University to implement a relief fund as part of the American Rescue Act, Coppin State University in Baltimore is giving back to students in a big way: $1 million to wipe away portions of their balances, plus a little bit more.
Coppin State’s new Student Debt Relief Initiative will help alleviate some of the monies owed by students who attended the university in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters and have endured fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from the balance forgiveness, the institution is giving each student a $1,200 credit toward tuition this fall.
“The education of our community is vital, and this financial investment cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins, President of Coppin State, which is hoping boost retention and pools of new students in the process. “Our university is proud to continuously open doors for our scholars and support their future success.”
How significant is the credit? Coppin State’s tuition for the fall semester is just $2,370 (12 credit hours) for Maryland residents and a little more than $5,600 for those out of state, the most affordable four-year option in the state. Total enrollment at the university is around 2,700, including around 2,000 full-time students. More than 90% of students receive some form of financial aid.
Those assists will help alleviate some of the pressure that profoundly impacts Black students. They incur around $25,000 more in student loan debt than white students and average more than $50,000 by the time they graduate. While the givebacks don’t go directly to student loans, they do pay down what students will owe.
“With this federal funding, Coppin State chose to support the community in the most direct and immediate way, to its most valuable stakeholders, the students,” the university said.
The relief at Coppin State and other colleges has been made possible by the $36 billion in funds released to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Hispanic Serving Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education through the CARES Act, giving them the ability to use emergency aid to directly help students in financial need. More than 5,000 institutions—from four-year colleges to trade schools—are being positively impacted.
Thanks to the swift turnarounds from HBCUs, students are reaping the benefits. Here are just a few examples of the philanthropic gestures:
- South Carolina State University has wiped away $9.8 million in balances owed for students who had left school and those who did not register for the fall.
- Likewise, St. Augustine’s University in North Carolina said it will eliminate $9 million from 2021 balances, which includes hundreds of Pell-eligible students.
- Virginia State University cut all balances, including tuition and fees, for students who were registered for classes during the past academic year.
- Wilberforce University in Ohio, at its commencement ceremony this spring, announced it would clear the balances for 2020 and 2021 graduates ($375,000).
- Like Coppin State, Clinton College in South Carolina not only cut tuition by 50% this fall but also offered a bonus to incoming students—a new tablet.