Trinity Washington University has paid off the college debt of nearly 40% of its students. Using $2.3 million over two weeks, the school wiped the slate clean for 535 students. The Catholic institution used funding from the American Rescue Plan to help those hit hardest by the world pandemic.
According to the announcement from Trinity, the average payment was $4,299. The president of Trinity, Patricia McGuire, hailed the move as “the right thing to do,” in the wake of COVID-19. She explained in the statement:
“Many of our students lost their jobs at restaurants and other service locations, and others were also the primary financial support for their families, making it hard to pay their tuition bills. While students could register for the next semester, they still had balances.”
She said the federal funding was meant to help students with debt accrued during the pandemic months. Trinity’s tuition is the lowest of all D.C. private schools, which helped the money go a lot farther. The school also offers $6 million in scholarships annually.
Trinity is the only university in D.C. that is designated both a Predominantly Black Institution and a Hispanic Serving Institution. Of their over 1,800 students, it is estimated that 95% are Black, Hispanic, or multi-racial. They cite the median annual family income for full-time undergraduate students at about $25,000. Trinity was started as the nation’s first liberal arts college for women, and the female population remains at around 95%.
McGuire went on to note that the funds work in tandem with their initiative, Trinity Dare: Driving Actions for Racial Equality. The DARE program affirms that Trinity’s historic mission includes racial equity in keeping with Catholic social justice teachings. The payments also follow in a 123-year commitment to equity for women. McGuire said:
“We believe that widening pipelines for our graduates to enter professions where persons of color are under-represented is one of the strongest contributions Trinity can make to improving the climate for racial equity more broadly.”