This weekend, nearly 2,500 college students received the surprise of a lifetime. In an effort to support marginalized students, South Carolina State University Acting President Alexander Conyers announced that the university would be eliminating $9.8 million in student loan debt. As Conyers explained, this decision will help support marginalized students who have struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic and may not have been able to register for classes if this had not been done.
“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 explained.
“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.”
Eliminating student loan debt for students at historically Black colleges and universities has become a popular and effective trend in recent months. Supported by the federal government, Wilberforce University and Delaware State University have both eliminated student loan debt for hundreds of students at their respective institutions. Most recently, Clark Atlanta University canceled more than $2 million in debt for its student.
"When they told me I was like ‘wow.’ Just for our university to do that for our students, it's … you're speechless for a moment like that because not every university is canceling account balances," Clark Atlanta University student Autymn Epps told FOX 5 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Much like Conyers in South Carolina, university president Dr. Georgia French was driven to make this decision because many students had been hit hard during the pandemic and were unable to register for classes in the fall. Decisions like this will not only boost morale on campus, but it will also allow the student population to grow. In addition, lack of debt will likely help lift a burden on the mental health of hundreds of young, Black scholars.
"Our students, like students around the world, were adversely affected financially, mental health, all sorts of issues, and what we wanted to do was find a way to help them," French explained.
Who will be the next HBCU to eliminate debt for hundreds of its students?