Community College of Philly pays off students’ unpaid balances for the second year

The college is using more than $1.4M in federal funding to forgive the debts of 1,900 students

By: - June 28, 2022 10:41 am

Students wait to cross the street near Community College of Philadelphia.(Philadelphia Tribune photo by Abdul R. Sulayman).

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — For the second consecutive year, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is paying off students’ unpaid balances.

The college is using more than $1.4 million in federal funding to forgive the debts of 1,900 students who were enrolled during the 2021 summer and fall semesters.

Students whose balances were paid off received direct emails. The largest balance forgiven was $7,430.75.

The college has not raised tuition since the 2017-18 academic year. A 13-credit load for students costs $2,659 per semester. Enrollment in fall 2021 was 11,647 students.

“We know many of our students have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and now record-high inflation is presenting even more hardships for our students and their families,” said CCP President Donald Generals.

“We hope this decision will make it easier for students to complete their degrees or certificate programs — becoming one step closer to earning family-sustaining wages — without having to worry about paying off their balances.”

The funding comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which was included in the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last March. It covers outstanding tuition and book store balances. Once students’ balances are paid off, they will be able to register for the 2022 summer and fall semesters. The first day of classes for the 2022 fall semester is Sept. 6.

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Last July, CCP paid $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.

College students across the country experienced higher food and housing insecurity in 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Hope Center for College Community and Justice at Temple University. In Philadelphia, 1 in 2 college students had trouble affording basic necessities.

“We received positive feedback from students last year who were able to stay enrolled at the college because of the board of trustees’ decision to pay off their balances,” Generals said.

“Once the college received more institutional funding from HEERF III … we decided to use this funding in the same way,” he added. “Considering the increase at the grocery store and the gas pump, we felt now was the right time to make this decision.”

In a written statement, CCP board of trustees Chairperson Jeremiah J. White Jr. said the board and the college will continue to help students financially in the future.

“We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to ease the financial burden far too many of our students face,” White said. “One less bill means that 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.

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