Wilberforce University will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates, according to a news release.
The president of the historically Black university made the announcement during 2021 commencement exercises Saturday, noting the total amount of cleared debt will be more than $375,000.
“As these graduates begin their lives as responsible adults, we are honored to be able to give them a fresh start by relieving their student debt to the university,” President Elfred Anthony Pinkard said.
Students were seen cheering and dancing after Pinkard made the announcement, according to CNN affiliate WHIO.
This initiative does not cover federal loans, bank loans or any other kind of personal loans taken by the student. It includes fines and fees owed to the university and tuition balances that were being paid directly to the university by students or their parents.
The debt will be covered by various scholarships, such as the United Negro College Fund, Inc., Jack and Jill, Inc., as well as other funding, according to the release.
Rodman Allen, who graduated Saturday, said he’s going to use the money to invest in his future, according to the university.
“I couldn’t believe it when he said it. It’s a blessing,” Allen said in the university release. “I can use that money and invest it into my future.”
Twin graduates Taylor and Tyler Thompson are also very thankful for the debt forgiveness, according to WHIO.
“It was very heartwarming because now we can actually, like clear our minds and actually focus,” said Tyler, who plans on applying to a police academy.
“It makes me want to do more actually, now that I know I don’t have to worry about it,” said Taylor, who wants to get her real estate license and eventually start her own business.
This isn’t the first time Wilberforce University assisted its students financially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last spring, financial aid was provided to Wilberforce students whose bursar office balance would have prohibited them from registering for upcoming fall classes, according to the news release. This was made possible by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which was set up through the CARES Act.