LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A surprise announcement Thursday means many students at Simmons College of Kentucky will have their student debt wiped out.

Simmons College Provost Dr. Barbara Young announced the HBCU is receiving $2.76 million from the federal American Rescue Plan. The school will use more than $400,000 of that grant to pay off debt for more that 100 students. Some received a letter Thursday that said "paid in full."

One of those students, Nyasia Ashley, said it's a major burden lifted of her shoulders.

"Just to see that it's just wiped clean is so much of a relief," she said. "It's just really overwhelming."

Simmons President Dr. Kevin Cosby said the decision to give the students a clean slate was an easy one. More than 70% of the student body is eligible for Pell Grants, which is based on need.

"Our kids, predominately, like Black people, are poor," Cosby said. "They're not poor in hope and in dreams and in abilities, but they are poor in resources."

This new resource gave student E'Niajia Mincy new hope.

"I'm about to give up and let it go," she said. "That just really put a weight off my shoulders to help me focus on something else. That's not my worry anymore."

Some of the rescue plan money will be used to upgrade the school's heating and air system, and Simmons is also launching an campaign to build a student center and gymnasium.

Cosby challenged the community to step forward to invest in future scholarships for students. 

"Now we need the business community, philanthropy, the city council to step up," he said.

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