By Chanel Hill
PHILADELPHIA CREAM – For the second year in a row, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is refunding outstanding student balances.
The college is using more than $1.4 million in federal funding to cancel the debts of 1,900 students enrolled in the summer and fall 2021 semesters.
Students whose balances were paid received direct emails. The highest forgiven balance was $7,430.75.
The college has not increased tuition since the 2017-2018 academic year. A 13-credit load for college students costs $2,659 per semester. Fall 2021 enrollment was 11,647 students.
“We know that many of our students have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and now record inflation presents even more challenges for our students and their families,” said CPC Chairman Donald Generals.
“We hope this decision will make it easier for students to complete their degree or certificate programs – one step closer to earning a salary to support their families – without having to worry about paying off their balance.”
The funding comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which was included in the US bailout, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last March. It covers unpaid tuition fees and bookstore sales. Once the balances are paid, students will be able to enroll in the Summer and Fall 2022 semesters. The first day of classes for the Fall 2022 semester is September 6.
Last July, CCP paid out $2.7 million to cover the debts of nearly 3,500 students using HEERF II funding between March 13, 2020 and the end of the Spring 2021 semester.
Students across the country experienced greater food and housing insecurity in 2020, according to a survey conducted by Temple University’s Hope Center for College Community and Justice. In Philadelphia, 1 in 2 college students struggled to afford basic necessities.
“Last year, we received positive feedback from students who were able to stay enrolled in college due to the board’s decision to pay off their balances,” Generals said.
“Once the college received more institutional funding from HEERF III…we decided to use that funding in the same way,” he added. “Given the increase at the grocery store and at the gas pump, we felt the time was right to make this decision.”
In a written statement, CCP Board Chairman Jeremiah J. White Jr. said the board and college will continue to support students financially in the future.
“We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to ease the financial burden that far too many of our students face,” White said. “One less bill means they can spend less time working overtime and more time focusing on their studies.”
Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.