Florida A&M University, a historically Black college in Tallahassee, used the the graduation ceremony to share the news that they were covering everyone’s yearly fees, totalling an estimated cost of $16 million.
"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," Larry Robinson, the president of the university said in a statement.
The money for the fees came from the federal CARES Act, which was passed in March 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The university’s Vice President for Student Affairs William E Hudson Jr said it had been a ‘tough year’ for 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,” he said.
“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.”
This is not the first historically Black university to apply federally allocated funds from the CARES Act to forgive tuition costs.
Clark Atlanta University in Georgia said they planned on doing the same for the period between spring 2020 to summer 2021. They shared a letter from the university’s president George T French on Twitter on 25 July.
“Through unprecedented federal funding via the CARES Act & the Higher Education Relief Fund, Clark Atlanta University clears student account balances for Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, & Summer 2021 academic terms,” the tweet read.
Through unprecedented federal funding via the CARES Act & the Higher Education Relief Fund, Clark Atlanta University clears student account balances for Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, & Summer 2021 academic terms.
Read @PrezGTFrench’s letter to #CAU students. https://t.co/VW0jqaRoUT pic.twitter.com/4atUxQ5esd
— Clark Atlanta Univ. (@CAU) July 25, 2021
They also used the money to repay housing and meal payments, supply 4,000 laptops to students and buy wifi hotspots for students struggling to connect to the internet while they studied remotely.
Ohio’s Wilberforce University outlined plans to cancel student debt for those graduating in 2020 and 2021. They used a combination of the federal money and other funding.
The school’s president Elfred Anthony Pinkard said in a statement: “As these graduates begin their lives as responsible adults, we are honoured to be able to give them a fresh start by relieving their student debt to the university”.