FAMU President Larry Robinson greets a 2020 graduate during the July 31 ceremony.
CNN  — 

Florida A&M University students got a welcome surprise when the university announced it would be paying off student financial balances for the 2020-2021 school year.

President Larry Robinson broke the news at the commencement for 2020 graduates Saturday.

“This is an indication 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,” Robinson told the graduates.

The historically Black university used more than $16 million of funding from the federal CARES Act, which was passed in March 2020, to cover the fees, tuition and unpaid student account balances, according to a news release from the school.

“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 William E. Hudson Jr., FAMU’s vice president for student affairs.

HBCUs in Georgia & Ohio also forgave student debt

FAMU is not the only historically Black college or university to give its students a financial break with its portion from the CARES Act.

Recently, Clark Atlanta University announced plans to clear student account balances for spring 2020 through summer 2021.

“Their academic and professional future is important to me and the entire Clark Atlanta University family. We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals,” President George T. French Jr. said in a news release.

Federal help also allowed the university to provide emergency financial aid, refund a prorated amount of housing and meal charges for spring 2020, purchase 4,000 laptops for every financially enrolled student, and buy hotspots for students with limited or no internet access in their homes.

In May, Wilberforce University in Ohio announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.

Wilberforce covered the debt with various scholarships as well as other funding, according to a news release.

CNN’s Alta Spells and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.