Western, MSC Southeast aim to relieve student debt with COVID funds

LA CROSSE, Wis.  (WKBT) — Western Technical College and Minnesota State College Southeast had some good news for their students on Thursday: The two state colleges are paying off any student debt from spring 2020 through July 2021.

Western will forgive nearly $740,000 in student debt, removing financial holds from the accounts of 913 students.

“COVID-19 created financial hardships for so many in our community, and it impacted how students could attend college,” said Western President Roger Stanford. “We hope this funding allows some of these individuals a path back to their career goals.”

Those eligible will receive a letter in the coming days. Western’s fall term begins Tuesday, Sept. 7. To learn more information on Western’s programs or services, call 608.785.9200 or visit www.westerntc.edu.

MSC Southeast is doing the same for 339 students.

“We are dedicating more than $400,000 of the college’s institutional COVID relief dollars to paying off debt for the students most impacted by COVID-19,” said Marsha Danielson, President of Minnesota State College Southeast. “We hope that this action makes a positive impact as we collectively work our way out of the pandemic.”

The college will pay off all debt owed directly to MSC Southeast that was outstanding as of July 30 for students who were enrolled in spring, summer or fall 2020 or Spring and Summer 2021.

The funding will come from dollars the colleges received from the American Rescue Plan passed last spring by the federal government as part of national COVID relief efforts.

Starting on Aug. 11, letters were sent to students whose accounts were affected, and college staff have begun reaching out help these students take next steps; 339 students were notified that their debts were paid off; the average amount was about $1,200.

Students who were prevented from enrolling this fall because of outstanding debt are now eligible — and encouraged — to register for fall semester classes.

Finance and Administration Vice President Amy Schmidt said, “With this debt discharged, students are free to register for classes to continue the program they were pursuing, or to request a transcript and pursue another program.”