MILWAUKEE — Student loan debt has always been a topic of conversation for students and families, but even more so during the pandemic.
MATC Director of Student Accounts Monica McNaughton said thanks to a third wave of federal funds, $6.75 million will help wipe out balances owed to the school.
"We hear students who are trying to pay their payments and deciding between groceries or diapers," McNaughton said.
This is the harsh reality some students face due to COVID-19.
Of the $6.75 million, $5.75 million will go to student balances.
The forgiveness program will help 7,000 students who owe MATC an average of $825.
Another million dollars will go directly into student's hands.
"We'll have a process for them to receive up to $500 to be able to receive some of that back that they paid for personally," McNaughton said.
Approximately 70% of students getting debt relief are students of color, according to MATC.
According to savingforcollege.com, Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever before. Among the class of 2019, 69% of college students took out student loans, and graduated with an average debt of $29,900.
Marquette University sophomore Kierra Pruitt said she had a tough year navigating through college.
"I think student loan debt during the pandemic is just so hard to think about," Pruitt said. "At least for me, my parents weren't able to put any money towards my degree. So, in that case I was all on my way," she stated.
Pruitt is studying to become a nurse and estimates she will walk away with nearly $60,000 of debt, more than double the average graduate.
However, she smiled and said she believes it is worth it.
As for MATC students, faculty really hope the added help will ease some of the financial burden.
"It feels good knowing that we can help them eliminate debt and again have a cleans slate," McNaughton said.
Students who qualify for the aid will be contacted soon by the college.