Last week, students of Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Florida A&M University received great news. According to press releases shared via each HBCU, respectively, tuition balances for the 2020-2021 school year are being cleared in light of the financial hardships the pandemic has brought on.
On July 23, Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. revealed that all student account balances for the Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 semesters would be “canceled and cleared.”
The press release explained the initiative would have “no impact on the students’ future financial aid eligibility” and that federal funding given to the university through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) allowed the institution to provide students with emergency financial aid dollars. As well, the school is able to refund a pro-rated amount of housing and meal charges for Spring 2020, discount tuition and fees for the entire 2020-2021 academic year and purchase laptops and hotspots so that its students could learn comfortably from home.
“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” President French stated in the press release.
The news of Spelman’s tuition clearance followed three days later.
Similarly, Spelman’s press release touched upon the “financial hardships” its students and their families have experienced since the onslaught of the pandemic.
“Spelman’s in-depth study into the financial aid needs of our students several years ago reinforced our understanding of one of this country’s fundamental inequities: high performing, high need students are drastically underfunded,” said Dr. Campbell in a statement released on July 26. “If 2020 taught us anything, it is that racial fault lines continue to make the lives of African Americans quantitatively harder than those of non-Black Americans.”
“Despite the financial hurdles, our academic outcomes are impressive,” Dr. Campbell highlighted. “Half of the students Spelman serves are PELL eligible, that is low to moderate income, which makes our six-year graduation rate of 75 percent, 30 percentage points above the national average, a standout.”
During an in-person commencement ceremony for 2020 graduates on July 31, FAMU President Larry Robinson announced that the university has been doing the work to clear tuition balances for its students.
“Over the last year and a half, the university provided over $16 million in student support and debt relief as a result of the federal Cares Act,” Robinson said in his remarks. “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.”
Vice President for Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr., shared that federal funding helped clear outstanding tuition and fee balances during the 2020-2021 school year for FAMU’s students.
“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,” Hudson told graduates. “It keeps them from having to get loans to pay off their unpaid balance. It’s been a tough year for our students and their families.”