Student Debt Cancellation Fund: Bite-Size Additions
by Christina DeVries, Director of Development
When the Student Debt Cancellation Fund launched in early spring last year, we had a big idea: pay off the debts from Minnesota State institutions in full. We’d prioritize people who have been most impacted by student debt, and everyone is welcome to apply. Fast forward to nearly a year later and we want to add to this goal. Specifically, we want to expand and add in some more bite-size pieces as we ramp up to being able to pay off debts in full.
New, bite-sized, additions:
1) Debt Relief Scholarship. Federal repayments are set to resume early this summer. Private student loan repayments have never stopped. For people paying off their student loan debts, this moratorium on payments has provided room to pay down other debt, save, and, for some, make student loan payments. We know that the pandemic that pushed us into a pause on repayments isn’t over and neither is the economic fallout. So, we will be offering Debt Relief Scholarships. These scholarships will pay for people’s student loans for three months to a year. Full details about the application process will be sent out in our newsletter.
2) Hold Fees. Colleges and Universities set the fees and tuition levels students need to pay to access their institutions. This can include a variety of financial fees. When a student has a balance on their account a few weeks after the semester starts, their bill is generally considered to be past due. The amount of the balance makes a difference. Students who have an unpaid account balance of more than $500 and that is 30 days past due, in the Minnesota State Universities and College system, are subject to holds. These holds can prevent students from future class registration, receiving an official transcript, and receiving their diploma. Minnesota State Universities and Colleges work with students to provide repayment options. Students or near graduates can create a payment plan, set up minimum payments and the system also allows for a financial aid deferment.
Hit pause on the $30,000+ of student loan debt most Minnesotans graduate with; these hold fees for students graduating can prevent them from accessing their records and diplomas. These documents are often needed to secure a job or provide proof of your education. For the fund expansion, the focus will be on graduating students.
Remember all the grit it took to make it to graduation: late nights, extra shifts, long papers, lab work, multiple roommates, borrowed money, tight budgets, living off less than three meals a day. Graduation is so close, and. yet, you can’t get the paper you’ve been working towards because you have an outstanding balance above $500. We can help alleviate some of that by paying off those fees for alumni and students who apply to the fund. Some colleges and universities have already begun to do this through the Department of Education’s discharge of $1.6 billion capital finance debt. This debt relief was passed on to students. You can learn more about why in this article from Best Colleges.
Just like there are multiple ways to incur student loan debt, there are multiple ways to chip away at it too. Our work is centered around access and affordability for all students. We want to eliminate it all, through big government policy changes, increased federal funding for public universities, and more policy changes to up access for students. Until we get to those changes, we’ll keep chipping away at the parts that are within our community reach. We hope you’ll join us and give to the fund. All donations are tax-deductible.
Want more from FCK Student Debt? Come hang out. Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on our socials, and join us as we continue to remind our elected officials to do what we elected them to do: #CancelStudentDebt.