Howard University clears debts of upperclassmen facing financial troubles from pandemic

Some upperclassmen at Howard University in D.C. with tuition not paid from the Spring semester will soon be tuition debt-free.

President Wayne A.I. Frederick said juniors and seniors at Howard that did not have an expected family contribution amount and had an outstanding balance for the Spring 2021 semester will receive a credit to their accounts that eliminates their current debt.

“Howard University is committed to holistically supporting our students and removing barriers they may encounter on the road to graduation,” Frederick said 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.”

The university has distributed over $27 million in direct cash payments, waived fees, emergency housing and meal assistance, and provided other support services to students since March 2020, according to a news release.

“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,” Frederick said.

The university said it has already started to issue credits to students who fit the criteria. It said other students who have demonstrated need will be helped in the coming weeks.

The credit that will be applied to the accounts will say “HU COVID Need Support.”

“I continue to be incredibly grateful for the support of the donors who have made this debt alleviation possible,” Frederick said. “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 said that it will continue to leverage its financial aid resources through the Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence or “GRACE” Grant.

This grant will pay the remaining tuition and some mandatory fees for the highest need students if they are on track to graduate.

Howard is using other grants and funds to help clear the debt for seniors in the Class of 2020 ahead of graduation too.

These efforts include securing a $31.7 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to reduce the debt burden on Howard medical students and creating the Howard Easement and Assistance Relief Trust (HEART) Grant using university resources to help students afford the cost of attending Howard.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up