HBCUs get it done.

Florida A&M University has recently become one of many Historically Black colleges to cancel student loan debt. The administrators used the graduation ceremony to share the news that they were covering an estimated cost of $16 million. Through federal and state funding, HBCUs are leading the change in student debt cancellation and providing their students with a unique opportunity to rid themselves of crippling debt placed upon them by the constantly inflating prices of a college degree.

The president of the university, Larry Robinson, spoke out and said, “This is an indicacation of our commitment to student success and our hope that your time on the ‘Hill’ has been transformative as you take on the challenges of the day, go out and make a difference”.

These funds were available to them through the federal CARES ACT, which is from March 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Clearing student account balances from the previous school year was a way of practicing our motto of “Excellence with Caring” by supporting students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Vice President for Student Affairs William E Hudson Jr.

As previously stated, several other historically black universities have applied federally allocated funds from the CARES Act to forgive tuition costs for students.

HBCUs lead the way in student debt forgiveness

  • Ohio Wilberforce University outlined plans to cancel student debt for those graduating in 2020 and 2021
  • Clark Atlanta University in Georgia said they plan on canceling debt for the period between spring 2020 to summer 2021
  • South Carolina State University – Canceled $9.8 million of student debt for 2,500 students
  • Delaware State University – Cancelled up to $930,000 in student loan debt for more than 220 recent graduates 
  • Fayetteville State University – Cleared almost $1.7 million in unpaid tuition and fees
  • Philander Smith College – Spent nearly $2 million clearing debts for about 500 recent graduates and continuing students
  • Elizabeth City State University – Cleared 212 student balances dating back to May 2020

This federal aid is necessary, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic as many families were affected by job losses, a decrease in income, and the nationwide recession.

HBCUs also used their allocated money for other expenses including, repaying housing plans, meal payments, and supplying 4,000 laptops to students with wifi hotspots for students struggling to connect to the internet while studying remotely.

Americans have roughly $1.7 trillion in student debt, and the pandemic resulted in the suspension of payments that helped millions of people afford their costs of living.

As student debt cancellation is an ongoing debate among current politicians, many have spoken out, including Senator Elizabeth Warren who stated, “The choice about what to pay will fall hardest on the most vulnerable among us”.

Advocates for loan forgiveness, as well as progress-minded policymakers, believe federal loans disproportionately burden people of color. This belief is further reinforced with federal data that shows black college graduates have almost $25,000 more debt when compared to white students.

According to a recent study in the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity journal, young black adults take on average 85% more education debt than their white counterparts. Furthermore, it is important to remember how interest rates and loans compound each year further widening the gap over time. Then, after the borrowers leave school, the disparity is statistically proven to compound by 7% each year after the student leaves school.

These statistics combined with the overall wage gap between races prove how important student loan and debt forgiveness is and how influential the reformists are at the aforementioned HBCUs.

On twitter there were many conversations circling about who the specific universities were and why other colleges were not doing the same.

However, most tweets supported all of the schools involved and celebrated the pride in which the twitterverse has with HBCUs. A perfect example of this is Dr.Donna A Patterson tweeting, “HBCUs, get it done!”

Florida A & M University was the next in a line of HBCUs that are taking their relief packages and using them to help minimize the burden of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully other schools will follow in their footsteps and provide students with financial assistance during these troubling times.