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FAMU Will Get $111 Million In Debt-Forgiveness If President Trump Signs COVID-19 Relief Bill

Wide-angle of FAMU.
Florida A & M University
Florida A & M University will get $111 million in debt forgiveness as part of a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress yesterday.

The Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program gives low-cost loans to HBCUs. But a study done by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2018 found two HBCU’s defaulted on their loans, and 29% of program’s loans were late in 2017. The program’s website says 86 loans are still outstanding. But that could be changing if President Trump signs a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress last night.

In the package, HBCU’s will have their program debts forgiven. Florida A & M University will be on the list to receive funds. The college took out $125,700,000 to construct FAMU Towers, build a new dining hub, an electrical power plant and pay for maintenance costs and refinance other debt.

FAMU spokesperson Andrew Skerritt says initially, the college would’ve used student housing fees to help pay back the loan. He says due to COVID-19, not as many students are staying in FAMU dorms, reducing how much the college can collect to pay off its program debt.

But now, FAMU’s remaining balance to the HBCU Capital Financing program will be forgiven once President Trump signs off on the COVID-19 aid bill. If that happens, FAMU reports it will receive $111 million. University President Larry Robinson says the development is a tremendous relief.

“It is a phenomenal figure, and the savings will start immediately. So now we can start repurposing funds to other initiatives that students will see fairly soon,” Robinson says.

Robinson says there are older facilities that are in need of repairs and renovation.

“We have a major renovation underway at Gibbs Hall, which is adjacent to the new Center for Access and Student Success on Wahnish Way. You know, multi-million-dollar investment in that renovation. And so now we can repurpose some of the funds that would’ve been paid to this debt to have accelerate the completion of that project and other renovation projects within housing stock at the university,” Robinson says.

Robinson says other buildings will be demolished and converted to other facilities or will be replaced with parking spaces.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.