UL Lafayette uses COVID-19 funds to erase $2.7 million in student debt

Ashley White
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette used federal COVID-19 funds to erase $2.7 million in student debt, the university announced. 

The debt relief impacts 1,175 students who were enrolled on or after March 13, 2020, university spokesperson James Savage said in a release Tuesday.

"We care about students and their success," DeWayne Bowie, UL’s vice president for enrollment management, said in a statement. “By eliminating balances, we’re providing students with much-needed relief that will enable them to focus on their academic journeys and move them closer to completing their degrees.”

UL used money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which was part of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.

Using that money, the university eliminated debts students incurred between the Spring 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. If a student enrolled in Spring 2020 had an account balance from a previous semester, it also was forgiven Savage said. 

The forgiveness was only used on balances students owed to UL and not for private loans. 

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The university also used some of the COVID-19 funds to provide direct grants to students enrolled during Summer 2021. 

UL plans to issue similar payments to registered students in the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. 

Other U.S. universities and colleges are using the federal COVID-19 aid to pay students' debts. South Carolina State University and Florida A&M University, both historically Black colleges, paid $9.8 million and more than $16 million respectively in student debt.

Contact Ashley White at adwhite@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @AshleyyDi