Education Dept forgives relief loans given to black colleges after hurricanes

Education Dept forgives relief loans given to black colleges after hurricanes
© Greg Nash

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.

Three of the institutions are located in New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina; Tougaloo College is in Mississippi.


However, a measure included in a funding deal signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpScarborough mocks 'Deflection Don' over transgender troop ban Pelosi condemns Trump's 'cowardly, disgusting' ban on transgender troops Trump moves to ban most transgender people from serving in military MORE last month cleared that debt. Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosCongress rebuffs DeVos in spending bill: report DeVos battles lawmakers in contentious hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report 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.