Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis is using federal pandemic relief funds to eliminate student debt owed to the university from the previous academic school year, school officials said.
Harris-Stowe, one of Missouri’s two historically Black universities, announced in September it is using the funds to cancel about $330,000 in debt, an average of about $1,076 per student.
Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, Harris-Stowe’s interim president, last week told KCUR, the public radio station serving Kansas City, the burden of student debt caused by the pandemic led to low enrollment at the school this fall.
“Many of our students were saying they couldn’t work — because of COVID-19, they lost their jobs,” Smith said. “As a result they could not make payments towards their balances for the previous semester or the semesters which were impacted by COVID-19.”
Smith said the school officials spent most of the week after it made the announcement convincing students and their parents that it wasn’t a hoax. Eventually the school received numerous calls and letters of gratitude, she said.