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Minnesota State College Southeast students are getting good news this week — as of July 30, any remaining student debt to the college from spring 2020 through July 2021 is being paid off by the college.   

Minnesota State College Southeast recently received American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government as part of national COVID relief efforts. In deciding how to utilize these funds, the college has chosen to prioritize support for 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 Dr. 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.”  

Students who were enrolled at MSC Southeast in spring, summer, and fall 2020 and spring and summer 2021 are impacted by the debt relief plan. Only debt owed directly to Minnesota State College Southeast that was outstanding as of July 30 was eligible to be paid. All debt was paid on behalf of students, regardless of the borrower’s financial status. 

The Department of Education strongly encourages institutions to discharge such debt. Many students had jobs in the service industry and either lost their jobs or worked reduced hours. Others struggled to continue working when their children’s schools and childcare facilities were closed during the pandemic.  

Starting on Aug. 11, letters were sent to students whose accounts were affected, and college staff have begun reaching out to help these students take next steps. Nearly 340 students were notified that their debts were paid off; the average amount was $1,200.  

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

Vice President of Finance and Administration 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.”  

Additionally, the college will distribute federal student relief funds directly to eligible students this fall and next spring. While the distribution strategy is still being determined, the college will prioritize students with the greatest financial need. Emergency relief funds are also available for current students through the Minnesota State College Southeast Foundation.

“This is an exceptional situation. We were able to pay down this student debt because the funds were available from the American Rescue Plan. The college chose to go above and beyond the government requirements for what we must provide as student financial support,” said Josiah Litant, vice president of Student Affairs. “We do hope this eases the burden for many of our students.” 

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