UWM student debt relief: $5.1M to students impacted by pandemic

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) announced on Friday, Aug. 20 a $5.1 million student debt relief program aimed at helping students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A news release says UWM will forgive outstanding balances incurred by students during the 2020-21 school year. The $5.1 million program will wipe away the debt of more than 2,000 students who owe an average of $2,700. In most cases, the amount owed is for tuition or housing, but any unpaid university bill is eligible for forgiveness.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone issued the following statement:

"We know the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for our students and their families. 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."

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About 24,700 students were enrolled at UWM during the 2020-21 school year. The debt relief program applies to undergraduate and graduate students at all three UWM campuses — Milwaukee, Waukesha and Washington County. Students do not have to complete any paperwork to have their outstanding balances forgiven; it will be done automatically. They also do not have to be currently enrolled; about 100 students who have graduated will have their debt forgiven.

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UWM will use a portion of its Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) institutional funding to pay for the debt relief program. The university also received HEERF funding to provide $25 million in emergency grants during the 2021-22 school year for students impacted by COVID-19. The deadline for students to apply for those grants is Sept. 13.

The emergency grant and debt relief programs are separate. Some students may qualify for both forms of aid.

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