July 31, 2021
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania announced it will use its pandemic federal aid to relieve student loan debt balances from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.
The university, which was the first historically Black college in the country, said in a statement that the decision came in "light of the financial and emotional hardships that students and their families have experienced" over the past year.
It refunded a portion of student fees from the past year as well and provided emergency grants for students.
“Our students have gone through a lot over the past 18 months, and we want to do whatever we can to lighten the burden,” President Aaron A. Walton said in the release. “Our protocols have kept our campus safe throughout this ordeal, and now with this financial weight lifted from our students, we look forward to seeing them on campus in the upcoming fall semester with their minds focused on their studies, not their debt.”
The university said this move was important because more than 70% of Cheyney's students are Pell Grant recipients — which are awarded to students that have significant financial need.
During the Spring 2020 semester, residential students were given the chance to stay on campus or return home after classes moved online, unlike many other schools that closed their dorms and required students to leave.
The university also refunded a portion of student fees for the Spring 2020 semester and offered federally funded emergency student financial aid grants to Cheyney students.
Earlier this week, La Salle University announced a plan to dissolve student debt for more than 100 of its students that totaled more than $522,000.
It's estimated that there is currently $1.58 trillion in federal student loan debt in the United States. As of December 2018, it was estimated more than 300,000 Philadelphia students collectively owed $11.6 billion, 6ABC reported.