Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College are the latest institutions in a wave of HBCUs that have launched efforts to erase student debt. The Atlanta-based schools recently announced they would clear outstanding student balances for the 2020 and 2021 academic years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The global health crisis has exacerbated financial strain for many HBCU students causing them to pause their studies or drop out of school due to the lack of affordability. This alarming issue prompted schools to step in and provide relief for scholars in need. “The past two academic years have been emotionally and financially challenging for you and your families due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Clark Atlanta President George T. French Jr. wrote in a letter addressed to students, according to the news outlet. “I understand. That is why I am personally thankful for your resilience, perseverance, and ‘find a way or make one’ attitudes.” Mary Schmidt Campbell, who serves as president of Spelman College echoed French’s remarks noting the past year has been difficult for students to navigate. Spelman College is utilizing federal funds to wipe away the student debt and will also provide a tuition discount for students during the 2020-2021 academic year.
News about the debt elimination comes on the heels of South Carolina State University’s move to cancel $9.8 million in debt for students. “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,” said South Carolina State University Acting President Alexander Conyers.
Wilberforce University announced it would clear more than $375,000 of student debt. Delaware State University pledged to cancel over $700,000 in student loans for over 220 students through the American Rescue Plan Act.