Release Date: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

HFC and partners create debt forgiveness program; encourage students to complete degrees

Five people seated in a row for panel discussion
Russell Kavalhuna, left, president of Henry Ford College, participates on a panel discussion about the new debt forgiveness compact, April 30. Other panelists are (left to right) Ora Pescovitz, President of Oakland University; M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University; and Brandy Johnson, advisor for Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development for Governor Whitmer. Photo courtesy Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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

The program targets the 693,000 adults across the Detroit region who have college credits but no degree by offering debt forgiveness of previously incurred educational debt at HFC, OU, and Wayne State. To be eligible, students must have incurred debt more than two years ago, must enroll at any of these three institutions, must remain current on their new higher education financial obligations, and must make progress toward degree or certificate completion.

This effort is part of the state-wide goal to improve the postsecondary attainment rate from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2030. Targeting the 693,000 adults with some college credits but no degree is a prime opportunity to progress toward the 60 percent goal.

Maximum debt forgiveness

HFC, OU, and Wayne State have jointly agreed to the following principles:
1. Unlimited. There is no cap to the number of students that can participate.
2. 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.
3. Reciprocity. Participating institutions agree to share academic transcripts with other participating institutions for students enrolled in the debt forgiveness 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 percent goal,” said Sandy Baruah, president/CEO of the Chamber.

HFC reduces barriers to educational success

HFC has a history of offering debt forgiveness opportunities to students, and has found success in student persistence, awards conferred, and student transfers. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 83 percent of debt-forgiveness students persisted through at least one semester, and more than 50 percent completed an HFC credential or transferred to another educational institution to pursue additional education.

“Two of our core goals at Henry Ford College are reducing barriers to educational access, and connecting students with meaningful career paths,” said HFC President Russell Kavalhuna. “When we implemented a debt-forgiveness program six years ago, many students successfully completed their HFC programs and transferred to other universities. This new partnership will further strengthen our university and industry connections, support student degree attainment, and help create the future workforce Michigan needs.”

Individuals with debt from HFC, OU, or Wayne State should fill out the Reconnect Form and they will hear from a representative who will help them.


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