CSCU Announces Forgiveness of $17 Million of Community College Student Debt

CSCU President Terrence Cheng today announced that debt which community college students took on or could not repay because of the pandemic will be forgiven.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Terrence Cheng today announced that debt which community college students took on or could not repay because of the pandemic will be forgiven. Paid for with federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) money, the forgiveness affects all account balances that resulted from enrollment in summer 2019 through spring 2021 semesters. All registration holds related to these outstanding balances have been removed.

“Community college students have been hit especially hard by COVID-19,” President Cheng said. “By eliminating the debt those students owe to institutions, we are removing a hurdle that prevents far too many people from continuing their educational journeys. Our message to students is simple: you now have a clean slate, so if an account balance was standing in your way, you can now register for classes for the fall semester.”

The debt relief will impact 18,161 current and former students. A total of approximately $17 million will be forgiven. There are no conditions attached, and students are not required to enroll in classes in any future semesters.

“The economic aftermath of COVID-19 disproportionately harmed community college students,” said Dr. Jane Gates, CSCU’s provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs. “They lost jobs, suffered food insecurity, and lacked access to vital services – to say nothing of the devastating harm caused to those afflicted with the virus. It is no wonder that so many students saw the debt they owed to our colleges pile up. I am thrilled that we are taking action today. It will not only give many of our students some peace of mind, it will also allow them to enroll in classes for the fall without worrying about registration holds.”

In addition to debt forgiveness, CSCU has distributed more than $56 million in direct payments to students across the system, using federal stimulus funding, since 2020. Additional announcements on student support are expected in coming weeks.

“This has the potential to be a game-changer for many community college students,” said Dr. David Levinson, interim president of Connecticut State Community College. “We are doing everything we can to remove barriers to attendance and completion, and the forgiveness of debt is the single most important step toward giving our students – many of whom suffered pandemic-driven financial problems beyond their control – the chance to enroll in classes for the fall semester.”

For more information

For more information, please contact Leigh Appleby, Director of Communications at 860-723-0617, applebyl@ct.edu