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NKU Forgives Student Debt Accumulated During the Pandemic Among $3M Equity Initiatives

Photo courtesy of Northern Kentucky University

Bulldog Media

President Vaidya eliminates $600,000 in student debt, provides $250 bookstore vouchers to all undergraduates and enhances mental health services

Northern Kentucky University announces $3 million in Equity Initiatives that prioritize students impacted the most during the pandemic. Using federal coronavirus relief funds, the Equity Initiatives advance NKU’s strategic framework, Success by Design, which outlines three pillars of student success: access, completion and career & community engagement.

NKU’s first initiative is eliminating $600,000 in student debt accumulated during the pandemic. NKU is bringing outstanding account balances to zero for degree-seeking students with balances from Spring 2020 through the Spring 2021 Semester.


“The health crisis and ensuing recession, affected so many of our students and their families,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “Wiping out their account balance, allows our students to continue their educational journey with a fresh start without worrying about what they owe the university. We know that earning a baccalaureate degree increases upward mobility and alleviates the demand for talent in our region, so we believe this investment aligns perfectly with our goals of student success and regional stewardship.”

NKU will also help cover costs associated with the upcoming fall semester. The university is providing all degree-seeking undergraduate students, including online learners, with $250 vouchers to the Barnes & Noble Bookstore to help pay for books, technology and educational supplies.

“Nearly 50% of our students are the first in their families to attend college,” said new Provost Matt Cecil. “Many students face difficult choices during their path to a college degree, like choosing between buying food and essentials or course materials. The $250 voucher can make the difference between them staying in school or stopping out.”

NKU is also dedicating more than $250,000 for supporting student health and well-being. The funding will directly enhance student mental health support. NKU will provide funding to train faculty, staff and students to form peer support groups as well.

“Our campus community experienced a tumultuous time over the last year, and it has taken a toll on all of us. Starting those conversations can be difficult, let alone normalizing that many are struggling right now,” said Dr. Eddie Howard, Vice President for Student Affairs. “The number of students in need of help continues to expand. This is an important commitment in connecting students with the support and resources they need while attaining their educational goals.”

The third Equity Initiative builds on the NKU’s Presidential Initiative for Student Mental Health. President Vaidya established the effort last fall and charged the university’s Mental Health Advisory Group to bolster student wellness by connecting them with help, providing early and ongoing support while assisting them in dealing with uncertainty.

Northern Kentucky University is located in Highland Heights, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. For more information, visit


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