WASHINGTON – Howard University on Friday announced it will clear the debts of juniors and seniors facing financial hardships as a result of the pandemic. President Wayne A.I. Frederick announced that students who have an expected family contribution of $0 and an outstanding balance for the Spring 2021 semester will receive a credit to their accounts that completely eliminates their current debt.
“Howard University is committed to holistically supporting our students and removing barriers they may encounter on the road to graduation,” said Frederick in an email to students. “During the course of the pandemic, we know that many students experienced unforeseen financial hardships that put their plans for pursuing higher education in jeopardy. In total, we have distributed over $27 million in direct cash payments, waived fees, emergency housing and meal assistance, and provided other supportive services to students since March 2020 to ensure they could afford their education and living expenses. I am pleased to announce that Howard is continuing these efforts by alleviating more student debt with the intent of increasing the chances for students to complete their degree programs.”
Howard University has already begun issuing credits to students who fit the criteria and other students who have demonstrated need will be assisted in the coming weeks. When they check their accounts, students will see that a credit labeled “HU COVID Need Support” has appeared on their accounts.
“I continue to be incredibly grateful for the support of the donors who have made this debt alleviation possible,” Frederick continued. “I am equally thankful for the perseverance exhibited by these and all students who have persisted in their educational journey despite difficult circumstances.”
The University will continue to leverage its financial aid resources through the Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Grant. The GRACE Grant pays the remaining tuition and selected mandatory fees for highest need students who are on track for graduation. Other recent efforts to support students with financial needs include:
- Clearing the debt for seniors in the Class of 2020 ahead of graduation;
- Securing a $31.7 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to reduce the debt burden on Howard medical students;
- Creating the Howard Easement and Assistance Relief Trust (HEART) Grant using University resources to help students afford the cost of attending Howard, and more.
Throughout the pandemic, Howard also helped students access laptops, kept the campus food pantry open, housed displaced students, and provided emergency funds for families in need. Howard also stood up COVID-19 testing centers in Black communities, where individuals were struggling to get tested, especially during the early days of the pandemic, and created a vaccination clinic that has distributed more than 55,000 doses of the vaccine to community members. The University did not resort to furloughs or layoffs of faculty and staff.
“We take our responsibility to our community, and to all those who place their trust in us for their education or employment, very seriously,” Frederick concluded. “Howard will always devote as much of our resources as we can to minimize the challenges our staff and students encounter. And when we lack the resources to provide the level of assistance that we believe is necessary, we continue to identify and secure additional resources that can be used to provide direct support.”
Students facing hardship are encouraged to contact the Division of Student Affairs at 202.806.2100 or via email at StudentAffairs@howard.edu.