La Salle University, HBCU universities to pay millions in student debt

Nationally, there is an estimated $1.58 trillion in federal student loan debt.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- During normal circumstances for young college students, cash flow can be a challenge.

With the added pressures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, student Cas Borowitz of La Salle University says student loans have contributed to that stress.

"Like, okay, I'm probably going to have to go to school full-time and work pretty much full-time, and you know, that puts a lot of stress on someone's mental health," said Borowitz.

Borowitz was thrilled to learn that La Salle University announced they'd be wiping her $6,600 debt owed from the spring 2021 semester.

"I started crying. I was very excited because my tuition has been a pretty big source of stress for me," Borowitz said.

La Salle did the same for more than 100 other students using federal stimulus money to wipe more than $500,000 in student debt.

Only students that owed $500 in tuition or more for their spring semester received financial support.

"It's the right thing to do, and the time is right. Students and families have experienced significant hardships," said Tim O'Shaughnessy, La Salle's interim president.

RELATED: Local university cancels more than $730,000 in debt for struggling students

Nationally, there is an estimated $1.58 trillion in federal student loan debt.

As of December 2018, it's believed more than 300,000 Philadelphians collectively owed around $11.6 billion.

"I think we've all come to the conclusion that college expenses are too tight and debilitating in that way if not thought through," said Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University.

Allen says he is hopeful the Biden administration and lawmakers in D.C. continue discussions of debt forgiveness.

With its federal funds, DSU itself committed to cancel more than $700,000 in students debt.

Other Historically Black Colleges and universities have also followed suit.

Cheyney University said in a statement that they will forgive all current student balances from the spring and fall of 2020, and spring of 2021.

"The last thing we would want to see is our students' education disrupted because of financial and emotional issues related to the pandemic," said a spokesman.

Lincoln University officials said they are discussing the possibility.

"In some ways, really scrapping up the dollars every year to makes these dreams a reality for these kids is what we've been doing throughout our existence," Allen said.

Officials at La Salle University say they are hopeful those who feared dropping out will continue their education through this effort.

"It just really eases like my anxiety like when it comes to my after graduation plans," said Borowitz.

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