Debt forgiveness program to start at Henry Ford, other local colleges

April 30, 2019

Press and Guide

The Detroit Regional Chamber with higher education institution partners Henry Ford College (HFC), Oakland University (OU), and Wayne State University (WSU) announced an innovative new program that will remove a primary barrier to degree completion for thousands of adults in the Detroit region.

The program targets the 693,000 adults across the Detroit region with college credits, but no degree, by offering debt forgiveness of previously incurred educational debt at WSU, OU and HFC provided that students enroll at any of these three institutions, remain current on their new higher education financial obligations, and make progress towards degree or certificate completion.

This effort is part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s region-wide goal to improve the postsecondary attainment rate from 40% to 60% by 2030. Targeting the 693,000 adults with some college but no degree is a prime opportunity to progress toward the 60% goal.

WSU, OU and HFC have jointly agreed to the following principles:

• Unlimited. There is no cap to the number of students that can participate.

• Flexible. Both community college (maximum debt forgiveness of one half of total outstanding student debt) and four-year university programs (maximum $1,500 of debt forgiveness) included.

• Reciprocity. Participating institutions agree to share academic transcripts with other participating institutions for students enrolled in the program, if students agree to enroll in a payment plan.

“One of the most effective ways to increase our region’s education attainment level is to remove barriers to those adults who already have some college credits to be able to complete their degree or certificate program. This multi-institution debt forgiveness program will be an important element of moving our region’s educational attainment rate to the 60% goal,” noted Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.

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Michigan has 1.6M college dropouts. Debt forgiveness may lure them back.

April 30, 2019

Bridge Magazine

Chastity Pratt

[…]

Henry Ford College and Oakland University are set to announce Tuesday that they will join Wayne State in a cooperative agreement to offer college debt forgiveness incentives. Any student who takes advantage of up to $1,500 in debt forgiveness would be able to transfer between the colleges.

The initiative is part of an effort announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and supported by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce to improve the state’s post-secondary education attainment rate from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2030.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is assisting with the outreach and reconnecting former students with the debt forgiveness process.

“One of the most effective ways to increase our region’s education attainment level is to remove barriers,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the chamber.

“This multi-institution debt forgiveness program will be an important element of moving our region’s educational attainment rate to the 60 percent goal.”

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3 metro Detroit colleges to forgive debt for returning students to complete degree

April 30, 2019

Detroit Free Press

David Jesse

[…]

In metro Detroit alone, about 693,000 adults attended some college but didn’t graduate. Some 13,000 of those went to Wayne State, while 11,600 went to Henry Ford and another 8,300 attended Oakland.

Records show that 25% of students at the three schools — 24,016 students — who stopped going left with some sort of financial hold on their accounts.

The plans are being promoted by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“It’s a great way to ease the path back into college,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the chamber. “If we create a lot of jobs, but don’t have local people who can take those jobs, it’s not as good for the region.”

The plan also meshes with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s overall plan to increase college attainment across the state, said Brandy Johnson, adviser, postsecondary education and workforce development to Whitmer.

“It sends the message that we need the talent and are willing to do what we can to help,” she said. “It’s really signaling to the population that we want them to get these” degrees and credentials.

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Metro Detroit colleges offer debt relief to former students

April 30, 2019

The Detroit News

Breana Noble

Students who attended but did not graduate from three Metro Detroit higher education institutions will have the chance to cash in on a new debt forgiveness program to go back to school.

The program, led by the Detroit Regional Chamber, is for the 693,000 adults across southeast Michigan with college credits but no degree and is aimed at improving the region’s postsecondary attainment rate from 44%. It is one of the first multi-institutional regional debt forgiveness programs in the country.

So far, Wayne State University, Oakland University and Henry Ford College have agreed to participate.

“We have a large number of adults who started but never got a degree,” said Greg Handel, the chamber’s vice president of education and talent. “A large percentage stopped because they had financial issues. We thought we would convene this partnership to try and improve the educational outcomes for the region.”

Community college programs, like Henry Ford, are offering maximum forgiveness of one-half of total outstanding student debt. Four-year university programs, like Oakland and Wayne State, are offering a maximum of $500 of debt forgiveness per semester for up to three semesters.

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Debt Forgiveness Programs Coming To Three Major Colleges In Metro Detroit

April 30, 2019

WWJ News Radio

[…]

Both Wayne State University and Oakland University are willing to waive up to $1,500 off of the debt owed, while Henry Ford College will forgive up to one half of a students debt.

Detroit Regional Chamber Vice-President Greg Handel says they want to improve the region’s post-secondary attainment rate, which now stands at 40 percent.

“We wanted to being a survey of our business members in the near future,” said Handle, “to start to find out what kind practices they have in place in terms of tuition support for their employees, and encourage more companies to offer tuition supports and other kind of supports to help their employees to get degrees.”

Wayne State has used a debt forgiveness program called ‘Warrior Way Back’ which has benefitted the 100 or so students involved, leaving University President M. Roy Wilson encouraged.

“I think that once it’s up to scale, said Wilson, “that it could be thousands, maybe tens of thousands of students, could benefit.”

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