On Thursday night, New York State announced a forgiveness of up to $ 125 million in unpaid student debt from about 50,000 students who graduated from the City University of New York (CUNY) system.
Launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), an initiative dubbed the CUNY Comeback Program, is a novelty not only in regards to the amount of student debt that has been eliminated, but also offers financial assistance to graduates who faced financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The School System Board of Trustees approved the use of $ 125 million in federal stimulus funds to pay off student debt in early July. Approximately 50,000 students will receive an additional incentive.
The average remaining debt for a CUNY student is $ 2,000.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardships in the lives of so many New Yorkers, and our students have been among the hardest hit,” Cuomo said. “This landmark new program eliminates millions of dollars in outstanding debt by providing much-needed help to tens of thousands of CUNY students as they work to get back on their feet after the pandemic and plan for their future.”
There are 25 CUNY campuses in total.
The fund aims to alleviate student debt and the current financial hardships of communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as black and Hispanic alumni from CUNY.
Outstanding student debt to CUNY nearly doubled during the pandemic. By freeing students from the loan amount, the Return Program aims to remove financial barriers to help more graduates accumulate wealth.
“CUNY students have shown tremendous resilience in the face of the immeasurable hardships they have faced over the past 16 months, from employment and loss of income to food and housing insecurity, amid an unprecedented health crisis that has brought disease and tragedy to thousands of New Yorkers. families, “said CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez. “These compassionate actions will enable CUNY students and recent alumni to move forward in achieving their educational and career goals without the specter of unpaid tuition and fees.”
Rodriguez added that eliminating outstanding student debt would also help New York’s economic recovery.
Eligible students must be enrolled at CUNY School from March 13, 2020, the date that COVID-19 was declared a national emergency.
Government officials are under intense pressure to write off student loan arrears as the national balance of outstanding debt stands at $ 1.6 trillion.