CCC GraduateCoahoma Community College officials announced today that it has canceled approximately $433,000 in student debt for students who have faced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was made possible through the use of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF II and III), Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), and the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

CCC President Dr. Valmadge T. Towner noted the significance of the initiative and said that the ultimate goal is to eliminate hardships and support student completion.

"Many of our students have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. We are fortunate to have the capacity to help reduce some anxiety and stress for our students by providing relief in the form of debt reduction as it pertains to costs incurred for a student's education," noted Towner.

Students can now re-enroll to continue their education at Coahoma, obtain their official transcripts for transfer purposes, or even possibly get their degree or certificates without additional pressure. The goal was to increase access and affordability for students to continue or complete their education after the disruption from COVID-19.

"We are hopeful that this effort will increase our retention numbers for students as well, " Towner added.

At the over 70-year-old institution, 95 percent of undergraduates receive grants or scholarship aid, and the average scholarship or grant award is $4,733. Given this, some students are still left with indebtedness, making the relief efforts timely.

Margaret M. Dixon, director of Research, Assessment, and Strategic Initiatives/Accreditation Liaison, says this measure is one of many that Coahoma has executed in order to support student success and completion.

"During the pandemic, the entire nation was faced with dilemmas never seen before. Before COVID-19, many of our students were already faced with emergency needs like transportation cost, financial distress, housing, healthcare, technological expenses, and other problems, and the pandemic only exacerbated the issues," said Dixon.

Coahoma students were also issued laptops and Wifi during the pandemic to support their transition to distance learning. Students received emergency grants from Spring 2020 through Summer 2021.

"Our students had to immediately adjust to learning via distance education, and some even lost jobs due to COVID-19. The pandemic affected students both mentally and financially, which in turn affected academic performance. Therefore, the College used the funding to provide immediate support to our students according to HEERF federal guidelines."

To date, Coahoma has provided over $4 million in aid, technology, and other student support services. As the pandemic continues, Coahoma students will continue to receive emergency grants, technology, academic, and mental support through HEERF for the upcoming academic year, 2021-2022.