Oklahoma City Community College Cancels About $4 Million in Student Debt for Over 4,500 Borrowers

Student Loan Repayment, Student Debt

Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) has forgiven nearly $4 million in student debt, including tuition and fees, using COVID-19 relief funds for its Fresh Start Initiative, the university has announced.

The news was announced by the OCCC President, Mautra Staley Jones, who said that over 4,500 students have seen their debt wiped away under the initiative, Erudera.com reports.

In a press release, the university noted that the Fresh Start Initiative applies to more than 4,500 who have enrolled during any semester between Spring 2020 and Spring 2022, clearing all the balances accumulated since 2020.

According to Jones, the COVID-19 pandemic had affected many students and their families and many continue to face hardships after the crisis.

“OCCC is an institution of new beginnings, and this initiative truly gives our students a fresh start. We hope this clears the way for them to continue their educational journey in the fall,” she added.

OCCC has so far provided an amount of $17 million from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to students as emergency grants. However, even after receiving these grants, thousands of students at OCCC continued to owe tuition and fees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fresh Start Initiative is a forgiveness program aiming to help students who have student loan debt and improve their balances affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intention is to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic on OCCC students and their families, remove students’ enrollment debt, as well as help them to be able to continue and complete their education.

To be able to forgive nearly $4 million, the initiative used the funding from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

Oklahoma City Community College is a public community college that was established in 1972. It ranks among the top 20 percent of community colleges in Oklahoma for the largest student population and highest number of graduates. The university is home to more than 12,000 students, about 31 percent of whom study full-time.

At the beginning of the month, the US Department of Education proposed major changes to student loan cancelation, including reducing the financial burden placed on borrowers whose education providers closed or lied to them, totally or permanently disabled borrowers, and public service workers.

“The regulations we’ve proposed today would remove many of those barriers and help create a federal student loan system that works better for borrowers,” Under Secretary of Education, James Kvaal, had said.

Up to now, Biden-Harris Administration has approved approximately $26 billion for more than 1.3 million federal student loan borrowers through executive action.

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