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University Cancels $700,000 in Debt for Graduates Hit By Pandemic

Delaware State University officials are canceling up to $730,655 in student debt for recently graduated students who have faced financial hardship during the pandemic.

Antonio Boyle, Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management, estimated that the average eligible student will qualify for about $3,276 in debt relief—or roughly a third of a year’s tuition. This will help more than 220 graduates, removing any delay in receiving diplomas.

“Too many graduates across the country will leave their schools burdened by debt, making it difficult for them to rent an apartment, cover moving costs, or otherwise prepare for their new careers or graduate school. While we know our efforts won’t help with all of their obligations, we all felt it was essential to do our part,” Mr. Boyle said in a statement.

The funds necessary to cancel these students’ debt became available through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief.

University President Tony Allen explained the significance of debt relief action, saying, “Our students don’t just come here for a quality college experience.  Most are trying to change the economic trajectory of their lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.  Our responsibility is to do everything we can to put them on the path.”

Dr. Allen pointed out that such debt reduction is consistent with Delaware State University initiatives to keep student debt manageable. “We haven’t raised our tuition in over six years; we issue every incoming student an iPad or a MacBook; we are replacing traditional textbooks with less expensive digital editions, and our Early College High School saves the average family of nearly $50,000 in college expenses.”

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Last year, the annual US News &. World Report assessment of America’s top colleges lists Delaware State University among the top 1% in Social Mobility, which is defined as “enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students.”

Dr. Allen says he is also optimistic about Senate Bill 95, which would extend the University INSPIRE scholarship from half the tuition for four years to full tuition for eligible Delaware students. Earlier this month the legislation, sponsored by Senator Trey Paradee, passed the Senate unanimously, 21–0.

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“Great universities have to go a step beyond ordinary,” said Dr. Devona Williams, the Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “This is that kind of moment for us.”

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