Office of Public Affairs

3/8/22 — USM Forgives $2 million in Student Debt

For Immediate Release: 3/8/22

Press contact: Lindsay Tice, USM Public Affairs Associate, lindsay.tice@maine.edu, (cell) 207-838-8087

USM Forgives $2 million in Student Debt

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine has forgiven the debts of more than 750 students who have been unable to pay their outstanding college bill during the pandemic.

The debts of both current and former students have been excused. 

Since spring 2020, when the pandemic began, 763 students have accrued nearly $2 million in outstanding balances for tuition, fees, room and board. Almost $1.6 million of that was acquired  between spring 2020 and summer 2021. More than $400,000 was acquired last fall. 

The university has excused all USM debt for students who acquired it between spring 2020 and summer 2021. Student debt forgiveness was capped at $2,225 for fall 2021. 

USM will use $2 million from its federal pandemic relief fund to pay for the debt forgiveness.  

“As the pandemic continues, so do the challenges our students face. With this support, it is our hope that we can offer some relief to current students and ensure that former students know they can come back unencumbered to finish their education,” said USM President Glenn Cummings.

Students do not need to take any action to have their debt forgiven. The forgiveness was processed automatically last Wednesday and students were notified soon after. 

Students who owe money may have their diploma and transcripts withheld or new class registration denied. With their debt excused, students will be able to enroll in classes once again and, for those who have already graduated, receive their diploma and transcripts. 

USM is committed to helping students invest in their futures, and excusing this debt is part of that. Students who complete their education have better social mobility are able to enter the Maine workforce with the skills and knowledge that employers need today.

“The Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) have really allowed us to help many students impacted by the pandemic since it started in 2020,” said Nancy Griffin, Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “I would like to extend a big thank you to Maine’s Congressional Delegation for helping to secure HEERF. I am thrilled that we are again able to use those funds to assist a financially vulnerable group of students. It is my hope that by covering their debt, these students will have the opportunity to complete their educational goals at the University of Southern Maine.”

Since the start of the pandemic, USM has passed on $12.3 million in federal relief directly to its students, not including this new debt forgiveness.

Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.