DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas College announced Wednesday, June 2, its Fresh Start program cancelled outstanding debts for around 14,000 students in the past year.

Under the federal government’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, more than $5.8 million was paid off, helping students who faced financial hardship under COVID-19.

“Clearing the balances will provide much-needed relief to many of our students,” said Dr. Marisa Pierce, Dallas College associate vice chancellor of enrollment management. “We hope that by removing this barrier we allow them to continue the pursuit of their educational and employment goals. It is our responsibility, as an institution, to do everything we can to put them on a path to success.”

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that rising educational costs have resulted in higher student debt, with the outstanding federal student loan debt surpassing $1.5 trillion last year.

Dallas College said Fresh Start is its most recent effort to help students who struggled during the pandemic.

Beginning last spring, and for the entire year that followed, the college said it provided laptops and hotspots to students who needed them.

Students facing financial hardships—from childcare needs to housing or food insecurity—could apply for emergency funds to help them stay enrolled.

When vaccines became available, Dallas College’s Eastfield Campus opened up as a vaccination site.

“Dallas College maintains a strong commitment to support its community, especially as it recovers from the pandemic,” said Dr. Beatriz Joseph, Dallas College vice chancellor of student success. “Graduating students who carry hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is not a recipe for individual or societal success. We need to help them, whether it’s through wrap-around services or outright forgiveness of debt owed on their tuition.”

Students who require more information about emergency funding or would like to apply can click here.

Dallas College, formerly the Dallas County Community College District, consists of seven campuses: Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland.

(Originally Posted 6/2/2021)

CBSDFW.com Staff