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Debt Relief Program is the Latest in Villa Maria College’s Effort to Make a College Education Affordable for All

By December 20, 2021May 19th, 2022Financial Aid

The latest initiative in Villa Maria College’s quest to make higher education more accessible and affordable for all is a Debt Relief Program. The first of its kind in Western NY, the program has multiple components that can help students overcome debt and access previously earned credits.  Students can apply to the Debt Relief Program immediately. 

The Program’s four components are as follows: 

The Reconnector Grant 

Available to students with a past due bill of $2,500 or less who are eligible to register other than holds. Students must be in good academic standing and have had at least a two-year gap in  attendance. Students who qualify for the Reconnector Grant will have their past-due balance reduced incrementally each semester. 

The Comebacker Grant 

Available to students who are eligible to register, in good academic standing, and have had at least a one-year gap in attendance. The Comebacker Gant covers up to $1000 per semester for a maximum of 3 semesters. Past due balances will be reduced incrementally after the successful completion of the first semester. 

The Completion Grant 

Available to current Villa students who are at risk of leaving the College. Students must be eligible to register other than holds, in good academic standing, and at the junior or senior level. The Completion Grant covers up to $1,000 per semester, for a maximum of three semesters. 

The Stranded Credit Release Program  

Available to current and former students who want access to their credits but have an outstanding balance with Villa Maria College. Students will receive a transcript with the credits earned for any semester(s) completed for which there is not a balance due. 

Eligibility and continuation requirements for each grant can be found online at 

“Equity and access are priorities for Villa Maria College,” said Rick Pinkowski, vice president for finance. “The Debt Relief Program is another way for Villa Maria to level the playing field and help make education affordable for all students who wish to earn or finish their college degree. If you are committed to getting your degree, Villa Maria is committed to helping you make it possible.”  

The Debt Relief Program follows an unprecedented announcement from the College that textbooks and supplies would be free for all students. In recent years, Villa Maria staff also developed a Student Emergency Fund that provides financial assistance to students facing unexpected hardships. In addition, 99% of Villa Maria students receive financial aid and 85% receive Villa-funded grants and/or scholarships.  

Other inclusion efforts include: 

  • The Achieve Program, which provides individualized academic and social support to students with learning differences  
  • The Care Center, which provides supportive services to promote emotional well-being and enhance personal growth that contributes to students’ academic success.  
  • The Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry, which is a major project sponsored by the Office of Mission and Campus Ministry. It serves over 1,000 individuals in the local community each month. 
  • The College’s partnership with Say Yes Buffalo, which aims to make higher education more attainable to graduates of City of Buffalo high schools. 

To learn more about Villa Maria College’s new Debt Relief Program, please visit