Martin University is set to clear past-due account balances for more than 200 students in an effort to provide relief to those affected by the pandemic, it announced this week.
The Indianapolis university has fewer than 300 students enrolled, so relief will be applied to most students of the state’s only predominantly black institution of higher education.
Martin will use grant funds from the federal government, specifically Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, or HEERF Funds, to clear students’ debt, including students who are planning to continue their education but have not yet registered due to debt exacerbated by the pandemic and students who have stopped attending college entirely due to not being able to afford tuition.
HEERF III Funds have been granted through the COVID-19 relief plan known as the American Rescue Plan. Both graduate and undergraduate balances at the school are eligible for the funding.
“We are blessed to provide these students with an opportunity to continue their education without the burden of financial debt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Martin President Sean Huddleston in a written statement. “Students should not have to take time off from receiving an education due to these unforeseeable circumstances.”
Students at the university, located off Sherman drive and just north of Interstate 70 northeast of downtown Indianapolis, can see if they qualify for the aid by contacting the school’s Bursar Office.
Timothy Taylor, a senior at Martin University pursuing a master’s degree, said he was planning on stepping aside from his education temporarily when the pandemic hit, as he lost extra sources of income outside of his job as senior pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
“It’s tremendous news for me,” Taylor told IBJ in reaction to the debt relief. “I’m paying as I go. I don’t want to get a student loan, and I don’t qualify for student aid. When the pandemic hit, I had a balance and wasn’t able to come back initially. I’m excited. Education has been a lifelong pursuit of mine, and I’m close to being finished.”
Taylor, 50, said his goal was to obtain a master’s degree by age 55, and he is on track now due to the relief. Taylor expects the aid to save him $4,000-$5,000 that he owed the school.