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Thousands of students attending HBCUs are getting their debts cancelled following the pandemic and an unusual year and a half.

2021 Spelman College Commencement

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and South Carolina State University are the latest HBCUs to show their gratitude for and dedication to their students by clearing their debts.

Over at SC State, Acting President Alexander Conyers announced that the university will clear account balances of more than 2,500 continuing students, totaling in $9.8 million in canceled student debt. Many of the students who will receive this financial support have been unable to register for classes due to outstanding balances, which is exactly why the university wanted to help.

“We are committed to providing these students with a clear path forward so they can continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control,” Conyers said in a statement. “Our university was founded on the tenet of providing students with access to a quality affordable education. That’s exactly what we intend to do. No student should have to sit home because they can’t afford to pay their past due debt after having experienced the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic.”

As for Clark Atlanta and Spelman, the Atlanta-based HBCUs are clearing students’ account balances from the previous school year in an effort to recognize the difficulties students and their families have been facing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Clark Atlanta University announced that it is wiping out balances for the 2020 semesters and the spring and summer 2021 semesters; Spelman College did the same for its students with balances covering the 2020-2021 academic year.

Clark Atlanta President George T. French Jr. wrote a letter to students, revealing that this decision was made as a gesture to thank them for continuing their education during the pandemic.

“The past two academic years have been emotionally and financially challenging for you and your families due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” French wrote. “I understand. That is why I am personally thankful for your resilience, perseverance, and ‘find a way or make one’ attitudes.”

President Mary Schmidt Campbell also announced that Spelman has implemented a one-time 14% discount of tuition and fees for all students during the 2020-2021 school year. For the upcoming school year, which begins on August 18, Spelman has rolled tuition and mandatory fees back to the rates from 2017-2018.

“Spelman recognizes that the last year has been especially difficult for both students and families,” Campbell said, going on to say that rolling back the tuition rate will have a “long-term impact on affordability.”
This news comes almost two months after Wilberforce University announced it would wipe away more than $375,000 of student debt, according to News One. In May, Delaware State University pledged to cancel over $700,000 in student loans for over 220 students through the American Rescue Plan Act that was enacted by President Joe Biden and his administration.


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