As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to overshadow the economy, many colleges and universities are easing the financial burden of their students and canceling tuition debts.
City University of New York announced last month that it is using federal coronavirus relief funds to erase up to $125 million in debt and unpaid fees for more than 50,000 students who were enrolled during the pandemic.
Any eligible student at one of CUNY's 25 campuses who was enrolled from March of last year through the Spring 2021 semester will have any unpaid debts during that time forgiven under the "CUNY Comeback Program," which was approved by the school system's Board of Trustees on July 6.
South Carolina State University is clearing the account balances of more than 2,500 continuing students who have fallen on hard times. The school said the move will provide "much-needed relief" to students who were not able to resume classes because of financial hardships.
Tennessee State University, a public historically Black university in Nashville, said that it is forgiving the account balances of returning students who were enrolled in the spring of 2020, fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. It will also cover the summer of 2020 and 2021.
"We are keenly aware that the number one reason that students do not return to college is lack of funds," TSU President Glenda Glover said in a statement. "Paying off account balances for our students will relieve some of the financial stress that they have and allow them to focus on studying and completing their degrees."
The university said the debt is being covered by the federal CARES Act, which was passed by Congress at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Earlier this year, additional funds were provided to educational institutions, school officials said.
Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private, historically Black university located in Ohio, also announced in June that 2020 and 2021 graduates’ debt and other fines and fees owed to the university had been cleared.
Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson announced $16 million will go over fees, tuition and unpaid student account balances during the 2020-2021 school year, according to a statement.
According to FOX 5 Atlanta, Clark Atlanta University announced that it is canceling student account balances from the last five semesters. University leaders say that means every student's balance from the spring 2020 semester through this summer's semester will be debt-free. According to Clark Atlanta officials, around 900 students had about $2 million in debt canceled immediately.
Spelman College also announced it will clear outstanding student balances from the 2020-2021 academic year, an action made possible by the receipt of funds from the federal government.
The Biden administration on Friday issued what it says will be the final extension to a student loan moratorium that has allowed millions of Americans to put off debt payments during the pandemic.
Under the action, payments on federal student loans will remain paused through Jan. 31, 2022. Interest rates will remain at 0% during that period, and debt collection efforts will be suspended. Those measures have been in place since early in the pandemic but were set to expire Sept. 30.
The policy applies to more than 36 million Americans who have student loans that are held by the federal government. Their collective debt totals more than $1.3 trillion, according to the latest Education Department data.
Kelly Hayes, The Associated Press, FOX News and FOX Business contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.