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NMSU distributed HEERF funds to help students continue educational path

  • By Tiffany Acosta
  • 575-646-3929
  • tfrank@nmsu.edu
  • May 17, 2022
Men and women stand and celebrate as confetti flies at a commencement ceremony.

With the conclusion of the spring 2022 semester at New Mexico State University in early May, hundreds of students earned a degree and walked across the Pan American Center stage thanks to Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III.

University Accounts Receivable at NMSU administrated a program using HEERF funds to pay outstanding balances, which provided help to students to return to school and obtain transcripts in addition to completing degrees. Throughout the NMSU system, more than $3.5 million was awarded to more than 3,200 students to pay off outstanding balances.  

“When the program was implemented by my department, University Accounts Receivable, I had the opportunity to directly speak with three particular students whose story meant a lot and continue to inspire me,” Bursar Nancy Ritter said. “In three very different circumstances related to how their outstanding balances were created and how it affected them from obtaining transcripts, coming back to school or completing their degree. I could relate to their challenges, because like them as an undergraduate student of NMSU, I experienced financial challenges and had to sit out a couple of semesters before I could finish my degree. I would encourage any student who finds themselves with challenges in completing their degree to be diligent because having a degree in higher education will provide the social mobility NMSU wants for all students.

“Hearing these individual personal stories and words of gratefulness for what NMSU did has been the greatest experience I have had in my role as a bursar,” Ritter said. “University Accounts Receivable was met with many thank-you’s. Many students and parents couldn’t believe it and were even in tears for how much this meant to them. I feel like we implemented a student program that the HEERF funds were meant to assist.”

NMSU students need to have balances below $1,000 to continue taking courses and a zero balance to obtain transcripts. HEERF III was created through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. NMSU officials acknowledge that not every student qualified for funds or received desired amounts.

“The latest round of HEERF funds that were distributed to address student debt was a suggested practice by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Tony Marin, assistant vice president of student affairs. “Many of the students have indicated that they had been struggling financially throughout the pandemic. Colleges and universities utilized HEERF funds to address student debt as they recognized the financial impacts that students were encountering due to COVID-19.”