Missouri HBCUs use federal relief funds to clear pandemic-related student debt

Harris-Stowe State University junior De’Ketra Tatum remembers listening to a lecture in February 2020 about what could happen if the coronavirus hit the United States.

A month later, she got an email saying that all students had to leave the campus.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “It took a lot for me to stay calm and be able to make sure that I’m able to balance my emotions about the pandemic, while still trying to be a scholar first.”

She went home to Memphis, Tennessee, where her father works hard to help put her and her siblings through college. She’s the first of the eight siblings to move out of state to study.

This summer, Tatum was among about 300 students at Harris-Stowe — a historically Black university near downtown St. Louis — who got a call saying that the student debt she incurred during the pandemic months will be canceled.

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