TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Florida A&M University said goodbye to the class of 2020 this weekend, not only with their degrees in hand, but also with an additional parting gift.
The university surprised students during commencement ceremonies telling them their outstanding debts from the 2020-2021 school year had been wiped clean.
FAMU graduates had something to cheer about besides their new diplomas at the conclusion of their college careers.
University President Dr. Larry Robinson had this bit of good news to share.
“There was some money on the account a week ago and now it’s gone. That was not a mistake,” said Robinson.
Using $16 million in federal stimulus funds, FAMU erased the debt students racked up over this past school year.
“During COVID many students had financial difficulties as well as their families,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. William Hudson Jr.
Hudson said the gesture will help ease the financial burden on students at the Historically Back University, which serves a population disproportionately reliant on student loans.
“A very at-risk population due to socioeconomic circumstances. So many of the HBCUs across the United States are doing similar things,” said Hudson. “And we’re happy to be a leader in that area with HBCUs. And as the number one public HBCU, we take that very seriously in helping our students across this nation graduate.”
Federal data shows Black students leave college owing an average of $52,726, almost $25,000 more than their white peers. According to Dr. Hudson, 90 percent of FAMU students receive some form of financial aid.
“As a student who took out student loans, and currently still paying on those student loans, I understand the burden of debt. And so being able to decrease the debt of students once they graduate is something that’s very important to Florida A&M University,” said Hudson.
The university says it hopes to replicate this year’s debt forgiveness for future classes. Especially as the coming year also appears challenging, with Florida’s COVID-19 cases continuing to spike.