Jarvis Christian College initiates program to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt

Updated: Jun. 25, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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HAWKINS, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas College is offering up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness for qualifying students.

KLTV spoke to Glenell Lee-Pruitt, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Jarvis Christian College, to learn more about why the college decided to offer the added financial support.

“We looked at the balances of our students, realized that most of our students who make the decision not to return to college, it’s usually because of their finances,” Lee-Pruitt said. “We took a look at their finances and made a decision that we were able to assist those students in returning to college by forgiving some of their debt.”

Lee-Pruitt said the college realized most of the people who were able to safely work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic were college educated people working in fields that afforded them the opportunity to work remotely.

“As we were beginning to have discussions with our president and the cabinet related to the impact of COVID-19 disproportionately impacting marginalized people and people of color, we began to realize that that’s the population of students that we have here at Jarvis,” Lee-Pruitt said. “As we looked at the fact that some of our students were so disproportionately impacted we thought it would be best for us to do our part to give students the opportunity to come back and finish their degree, so that as they move forward in their lives in the future they, too, could have the options of teleworking if they needed to.”

In order to qualify, students will have to be registered for the upcoming fall semester, complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and create a UNCF profile. Students will receive 50 percent of the reduction in their balance when they successfully complete the fall semester. The remaining 50 percent will be awarded when they successfully complete the Spring 2021 semester.

“This allows students to come back to campus without worrying about a prior-year balance,” said Paula Love, vice president for finance and administration. “Not only are we forgiving up to $10,000, we’re also offering a grant to those students with zero balances.”

JCC also conducted a survey to assess students’ needs as they dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered classrooms and left some students without the technology needed to attend classes online. Starting this fall, JCC will provide laptops with Wi-Fi capability to students who need them.

“It’s just one less thing that we wanted students not to worry about, and parents as well, because during this time many of our students lost jobs. Their families have lost jobs,” Love said. “Not having to worry about a prior balance will alleviate a lot of pressure and stress of a lot of households on whether or not they can afford to have their child return to campus.”

From Jarvis Christian College:

If there is one thing that COVID-19 allowed all of us to see is that there is a difference between those who are able to work from home and those who are considered essential and have to go to work even when the world is in a pandemic. What undoubtedly is included in that difference is whether or not an individual has a college degree and work in a field where he or she can “telework”. It also exposed to all of us the disparity that exists in this country related to health, wealth and socio-economic barriers faced by some Americans.

Jarvis Christian College’s president and his cabinet took a look at the impact that COVID-19 had on people of color and subsequently upon their students. As corporations, the federal government and other entities were providing some relief to Americans, JCC thought that it would do likewise for the students who have committed to earning their college degree through the “Jarvis Cares Program.” The program stems from the Jarvis Promise…our commitment to keep JCC accessible and affordable. It is designed to reduce the students’ debt by an amount up to $10,000.00, which is Jarvis’ way of assisting students with their dream of obtaining a college degree that can make a difference in how and where they work. In order to be qualified, students will have to follow three simple steps: register for the 2020 Fall semester, complete their FAFSA and create their UNCF Profile. They will receive 50% of the reduction in their balance when they successfully complete the fall semester and the other 50% when they successfully complete the spring semester.

Most often, students stop out because they are so overwhelmed by financing their education. Jarvis Cares give them the chance to reduce their balance and continue on to completion. Jarvis Christian College’s President Dr. Lester C. Newman stated, “We wanted our students to know that during this difficult time that we value them and want to see them succeed. Jarvis Cares helps us to do that for our students.”

In addition to the student debt forgiveness, the Jarvis Cares Program seeks to address issues related to the digital and technological divide that has been made evident during this pandemic when educational institutions had to quickly transition from face to face classes to remote and distance learning modalities. When survey results showed that students at JCC were being negatively impacted because of their lack of access to the internet and Wi-Fi, the college quickly decided to provide needed students with laptops that have Wi-Fi capability imbedded in the laptop beginning in the fall. Newman stated, “This will allow our students to have the technology they need to be

successful in their classes whether they are on campus or at home. This is what Jarvis Christian College is about, helping our students to succeed and make a difference in this global society.”

If any Jarvis Christian College student would like to know more about the Jarvis Cares debt forgiveness or how to access the technology support, you may contact Ms. Brandy Gray, Student Account Representative at (903)-730-4890 ext. 2710 or Mr. Chris Watson, Director of Information Technology at (903) 730-4890 ext. 3603.

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