Tulsa Community College is spending roughly $4 million in federal virus relief funds to pay off more than 5,000 students’ outstanding balances.
The institution is notifying current and former students enrolled on or after March 2020 that money they owed as of July 12, 2021, has been wiped out. A survey found about 40% of TCC students reported their financial situation has worsened during the pandemic, and a similar proportion is now struggling to pay for college.
Vice President of Student Success and Equity Eunice Tarver said there are broad implications if that many students were unable to finish their degrees.
"These are students who've worked really hard. Many of them are close to completion, but something like a financial hold on their account that they can't afford to pay means that we have fewer folks in our workforce pipeline," Tarver said.
Only money owed to TCC is forgiven. Federal and private student loans are unaffected.
Students enrolled on or after March 2020 don’t need to do anything — the outstanding balance forgiveness is being processed automatically.
"We've heard from students, we've seen students who really thought this was too good to be true. And so, they wanted to make sure that this was legit, this was something that the college actually did," Tarver said.
Students with questions can email the bursar at firstname.lastname@example.org. TCC will also continue using federal relief to make emergency grants for students facing expenses like child care that could interrupt their enrollment if they can't pay for them.
TCC received nearly $8 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act under an allocation for higher education institutions.