Southwest Tennessee Community College eliminates $1.8 million in debt for hundreds of students hit hard by the pandemic
By Diana Fedinec
Southwest Tennessee Community College has paid more than $1.8 million to clear outstanding balances for more than 1,600 eligible students who attended Southwest during the Spring 2020, Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters. Southwest funded the unprecedented debt-relief package with U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF).
The debt forgiveness will provide students financially impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic the opportunity to come back to college with a fresh start and continue their academic journey. Students do not have to repay the relief funds.
“Our students were hit particularly hard by the pandemic and many of them had to leave college abruptly,” Dr. Tracy D. Hall, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College said. “Wiping the slate clean clears a path for them to come back and move forward with their goals and career aspirations,” she added.
Southwest is allocating lost revenue funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act to help students overcome debt incurred during the pandemic so they also are able to focus on the opportunities in front of them, rather than deal with the debt that blocks their path. “Earning a college credential is transformative for our students and removing this financial barrier to their success is the best use of COVID-19 relief funds,” President Hall said. “We are truly grateful and elated to be able to help our students in such a meaningful way.”
Southwest is allocating the federal relief dollars in accordance with U.S. Department of Education guidelines that require funds to be used to assist with any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or childcare.
Students can log into the My.Southwest portal to view their account balance to determine whether they were provided debt relief. Former students who want to inquire about their eligibility for debt forgiveness should call (901) 333-5292 or email Cares@southwest.tn.edu.
Southwest returned to full on-campus operations Aug. 2 and fall classes begin Aug. 23.