The Education Department is fully forgiving relief loans granted to four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the department announced Wednesday.
Dillard University, Xavier University, Southern University at New Orleans and Tougaloo College had all taken out more than $360 million in loans in 2007 to recover from the damage caused by the hurricanes.
Nearly all of the institutions were located in New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, with the exception of Tougaloo College in Mississippi.
However, a measure included in a funding deal signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE last month cleared that debt. Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosAmerican women will decide who wins and loses in 2018 elections Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week House Dems call for first Education Committee hearing on school shootings since Sandy Hook MORE formally forgave the loans on Wednesday.
“This additional disaster relief will lift a huge burden and enable the four HBCUs to continue their focus on serving their students and communities,” DeVos said in a statement. “This relief provides one more step toward full recovery.”
Payments on the loans had been delayed in 2013 after Congress passed a provision to do so in a 2012 spending bill, according to The Louisiana Weekly.
But the five-year delay was set to run out this year, which would have required the institutions to begin to pay back the loans.
“The Dillard University community is grateful that the President, the Administration, and the Congress provided total loan forgiveness to the HBCUs decimated by Hurricane Katrina,” Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University, said in an Education Department statement. “Dillard had six feet of standing water inside of its buildings, and was the most physically devastated institution of higher education.”
Xavier University president C. Reynold Verret also thanked the department for wiping out the loans.
“Forgiveness of the loans removes a great impediment to innovation and the delivery of superlative education to talented women and men who build and sustain our communities, cities and nations,” Verret said in the department release.