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Quinsigamond Community College in Massachusetts plans to clear the unpaid balances of students enrolled during the pandemic, using over $2.5 million from federal coronavirus relief funds.

The debt forgiveness program aims to help students complete their degrees after a trying academic year.

“By eliminating this debt, we are taking an equitable approach to higher education. We find that students with debt are less likely to enroll or stay in college,” Luis G. Pedraja, president of the college, said in a release. “This eliminates that barrier. As we recover from the pandemic, we want to give our students in need a fresh start to a better life and a way to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge they need, and our businesses need, in today’s new world.”

To qualify for debt relief, students need to have been enrolled in a credit degree or certificate program from mid-March 2020 to the end of this spring semester. The funding is expected to help 1,687 students, with a per-student average of $1,525 in debt. More than half of the students who qualify for debt forgiveness are students of color.

Debt relief at Quinsigamond comes amid a flurry of similar efforts by historically Black colleges and universities to lighten students’ debt loads or make the fall semester more affordable.

Community colleges across the country are also undertaking all kinds of initiatives to ease students’ financial burdens and encourage fall enrollment. Elgin Community College in Illinois, for example, recently announced new students who register for fall classes this month will receive $500 gift cards to the campus bookstore. Other community colleges are offering free summer courses and scholarships as financial incentives.