Polk State College cancels $1.2 million in student debt for nearly 1,300 students

Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — Nearly 1,300 students at Polk State College are now debt-free after the college decided to cancel $1.2 million in student debt.

From as little as 47 cents to as much as $17,000, Polk State College said it’s trying to relieve the financial burden brought on by the pandemic.

It canceled debt for students enrolled between March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Any student debt that were sent to collections during this time have also been eliminated.

Among the students impacted is Angela Maldonado, who works part-time in the financial aid office when she’s not in the classroom.

“It’s huge when you take out loans you do all that back and you have the responsibility of paying that back so it is a pressure to make that owed” Maldonado said.

That pressure for Maldonado is the more than $5,000 of student loans she owes. Polk State alleviated $100 of debt that she owed back to the school.

“I am eternally grateful that something I don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for – that’s something I don’t have to try to scrounge and struggle with,” she said.

The debt cancellation was announced by the college Friday morning.

“I can imagine that it is just a remarkable feeling, just a huge burden weight lifted off their shoulders to be able to continue to pursue their education with their debt eliminated,” President Angela Garcia Falconetti said.

Falconetti said this tuition assistance relief offers opportunity to students.

“Student debt is one of the main carriers of financial burden throughout one’s adult life and to have that eliminated and to ensure that they can complete their degrees – what a gift,” she said.

Polk State College used money from the the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to cover the cost of the $1.2 million debt cancellation.

The college said it has invested almost $7.3 million of the nearly $18 million in relief funds for student emergency financial aid, which has been given to more than 4,000 students

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