Wilberforce University is sending its newest graduating classes home with a huge gift and peace of mind.
At the end of Saturday’s commencement exercises, President Elfred Anthony Pinkard announced to the 2020 and 2021 new alumni that their debt and other debt owed to the university by students from 2020 and 2021 has been settled and carries a zero balance.
The university’s debt erasing dollars are resourced from various scholarships such as the United Negro College Fund, Inc., Jack and Jill, Inc., and other institutional funding to help students from last year’s spring and fall semesters and spring 2021 with their higher education finances.
Last spring, during the initial COVID 19 pandemic outbreak, all Wilberforce students were relieved of financial pressure through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), set up through the CARES Act, which provided emergency financial aid for colleges and universities. This specifically helped students whose bursar office balance would have prohibited them from registering for the upcoming fall classes.
The debt relief means a brighter financial future for this graduate.
“I couldn’t believe it when he said it. It’s a blessing. I know God will be with me. I’m not worried. I can use that money and invest it into my future.” – Rodman Allen, 2021 WU Alumnus
The total tally that has been cleared from all Wilberforce students enrolled in 2020 and 2021 exceeds $375, 000. That, the president says, will move these students in a positive budgetary direction. According to the advocacy organization ProgressNow, students with outstanding student debt are 36 percent less likely to buy a home or less likely to take out car loans. Canceling student debt stimulates the economy because potential borrowers are encouraged to spend more.
“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.” -Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard, 22nd President, Wilberforce University
In recent years, the average college student loan debt is more than $30,000 and the numbers are staggering for students at HBCUs. For instance, statistics show balances for African American women can take up to 111% of their first year income. And according to the American Association of University Women, Black women also have the highest student debt loan of any racial or ethnic group. For these 2020 and 2021 Wilberforce students, those statistics have now narrowed.