Some graduating seniors from Delaware State University are getting additional student debt relief.
DSU is using a portion of its federal American Rescue Plan funding to cancel some student debt for graduating seniors. The school is spending a total of $730,655 to wipe out debt carried by 223 seniors.
“This is something that was hanging over their head, that is not hanging over their head anymore,” DSU spokesperson Carlos Holmes said. Holmes says the move continues a commitment that the university made to help students afford college before COVID-19.
“That has been a part of our legacy,” he said.
Peni Kimani is graduating with dreams to become an airline pilot. A degree is required, but the aviation program is the most expensive.
“Something that is very telling about our generation is that we basically begin our adult lives indebted to loan companies and I think that definitely gives us a huge disadvantage,” Kimani said.
The relief she is receiving may now help her get to graduate school.
“I am so very fortunate that I got that money to help with the loans because I truly think it’s going to give me a leading edge amongst my peers,” Kimani said.
DSU officials say the average student eligible for debt cancellation will qualify for about $3,276 in relief.
University President Tony Allen said DSU has a responsibility to keep debt manageable for students, especially those who come from less prosperous backgrounds and first generation students.
"Our students don’t just come here for a quality college experience. Most are trying to change the economic trajectory of their lives for themselves, their families, and their communities," said Allen in a statement. "Our responsibility is to do everything we can to put them on the path.”
This chunk of debt cancellation fits with that mission, which is highlighted in last year’s U.S. News and World Report college assessment, which placed DSU among the top 1% in Social Mobility.