Montgomery College will use nearly $6 million it has received in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government to offset its students’ past-due tuition accrued during the pandemic.

The money, awarded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, will cover fees for 4,569 students who accrued debt since the fall 2020 semester, according to a press release from the college on Tuesday.

“The pandemic has disadvantaged community college students in many ways — including loss of employment, food insecurity and inadequate technology,” Montgomery College Interim President Charlene Dukes said in the release. “Access to higher education in this climate is more critical than ever. Ensuring that students can continue to rebuild their lives in this changed environment is part of the mission of Montgomery College.”

The $5.8 million will not be used to cover student loan debt. Other money awarded to the college through the relief fund will be used for professional development and “provide technology for student success,” the press release said.