Alabama community college erases student balances with federal COVID funding

Local News
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

HANCEVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — More than 600 Alabama community college students had outstanding balances paid in full after school leaders at Wallace State decided to use federal COVID relief money to ease the pandemic burden.

Wallace State leaders announced that it was using money from the American Rescue Plan and other institutional funding to cover the costs of balances held by students who have been enrolled in the last three semesters.

“We actually forgave the balances for more than 600 students and more than half a million dollars, and we intend to do more in the fall,” said Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics.

Wallace State is the first community college in the area to announce the unique plan. Karolewics hopes it will remove any barriers for students who want to return to school.

“We want no dreams to be deferred in a community college, and so the economy is hot and the work force is even hotter right now and our students need to be plugged into high paying jobs according to their skill set, so we want them to continue and to finish on time,” said Karolewics.

While some balances were just pennies, other students had debts of more than $2,000, Karolewics said.

“It took off a lot of pressure on us. It was a pretty penny, mine was. This is my third semester into school so it wasn’t cheap,” said Tricia Newcomb, a Wallace State student from Arab.

Newcomb is studying to become a dental hygienist and said the savings will be a big boost after a challenging 18 months.

“Things got hard and the beginning. I know a lot of students in my previous classes dropped out because they couldn’t afford to stay,” Newcomb continued. “I felt like I wasn’t where I should be in life and having this new opportunity to go back to school and do what I am passionate about is something that brings a lot of joy and happiness to me.”

Wallace State is currently registering students for the upcoming year before August 18th. More details can be found here.

Students who register before that date are also eligible to be entered into a drawing for a scholarship.

Karolewics said there is more federal funding available for the fall, but leaders have not decided how it will be spent.

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