MILWAUKEE — The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has announced a student debt relief program centered around helping students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-2021 school year.
The $5.1 million program will eliminate debt for over 2,000 students who owe an average of $2,700. Most of the amounts owed are for tuition or housing, but any other unpaid university bill is eligible for forgiveness.
“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for our students and their families,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said. “Many lost jobs and incurred additional expenses for child care and health care. We established new scholarships, emergency grants and low-cost computer purchase programs to help, but we know for some, the need was greater. By forgiving their debt from the past year, we hope to give them a fresh start.”
The debt relief program applies to both graduate and undergraduate students at all three UWM campuses, located in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Washington County.
Outstanding balances will be forgiven automatically — meaning students don't have to fill out any paperwork. Students also don't have to be currently enrolled; about 100 students who have already graduated will have their debt forgiven.
The funding comes from a portion of UWM's Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The university received an additional $25 million in emergency grants for the 2021-2022 school year for students who were impacted by COVID-19. Students must apply for these grants by Sept. 13.
The grant and debt relief program are separate, and some students could qualify for both types of aid.
Students who don't have outstanding balances but still faced financial hardships can apply for a portion of $500,000 set aside from the HEERF.