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Community colleges forgive debt racked up during pandemic

July 20, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system announced Tuesday that the state’s community colleges will forgive $17 million of student debt accumulated during the pandemic.

The debt, which students took on during the pandemic or could not repay because of it, will be made up with money from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, CSCU President Terrence Cheng said.

There are no conditions attached, and students are not required to enroll in classes in any future semesters, Cheng said.

“Community college students have been hit especially hard by COVID-19,” Cheng said in a statement. “By eliminating the debt those students owe to institutions, we are removing a hurdle that prevents far too many people from continuing their educational journeys.”

The decision is expected to impact 18,161 current and former students at the state’s 12 community colleges, officials said. That includes students who lost jobs, suffered food insecurity and even those who were afflicted with COVID-19 said Jane Gates, CSCU’s provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs.

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“It is no wonder that so many students saw the debt they owed to our colleges pile up,” she said. “I am thrilled that we are taking action today. It will not only give many of our students some peace of mind, it will also allow them to enroll in classes for the fall without worrying about registration holds.”