(Abilene, Texas – October 27, 2021) McMurry University (McMurry) announced today that the institution will forgive up to $1.215 million of unpaid student account balances. The relief is available using funds awarded as part of the American Rescue Plan and designated as Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (ARP HEERF III). Students who enrolled between summer 2020 and summer 2021 semesters and have an account balance will see their institutional debt accrued through the summer 2021 semester canceled.
Institutions have broad discretion to distribute HEERF funds, but use must be related to the coronavirus pandemic. Through debt discharge, McMurry University has elected to use its HEERF funds to directly benefit students.
Senior Emily Michki, who plays softball for McMurry and graduates in May 2022, couldn’t believe the news. “I chose to take on debt to attend college and to provide me with future opportunities…I come from a working family, and my parents live within their means. I don’t want to rely on them, so I work to contribute to my college tuition and expenses. When McMurry told me some of my student debt is being forgiven, a weight has been lifted off me and my parents’ shoulders. It was an early birthday present.”
“Loss of income, food insecurity, COVID-19 restrictions and, possibly, illness are just a few of the challenges impacting students like Emily and their families,” said McMurry University President Sandra S. Harper. “The HEERF funding allows institutions like McMurry to do something meaningful for students in the face of unprecedented uncertainty.”
The University is finalizing plans to discharge debt and notify eligible students. Students with eligible debt will be contacted by the University soon to inform them of the benefit. In total, institutional debt will be cleared for more than 400 students whose debt averaged $3,005 according to Vice President of Enrollment Management Grant Greenwood. “We are pleased to offer institutional debt forgiveness to allow affected students to continue their studies and prepare for a life of leadership, service, and professional success,” Greenwood said.
Dr. Harper noted that McMurry used close to 70 percent of the institution’s final round of funding (ARP HEERF III) to forgive institutional student debt. She commented, “The HEERF grant allows McMurry to offer students a means to regain financial stability and emerge from the pandemic in a better financial position.”