“You have no more balance”

It’s a sad but true fact that the celebration and sense of accomplishment that comes with graduating from college also often means the impending realization that student loans and debt don’t, in fact, have disappeared like magic.

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But for Wiley College’s Class of 2022, it appears that’s exactly what happened when an anonymous donor cleared the promotion balances.

Wiley, which is a historically black university in Marshall, Texas, held its 133rd kick-off convocation over the weekend, where more than 100 students were expected to take the stage and graduate.

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The graduates did not know that they would receive much more than their degree.

“You don’t owe any debt, you don’t owe the college a penny,” Hermon J. Felton, president and CEO of Wiley College, told graduates in a surprise announcement at the ceremony. “If you have a balance, you had a balance. You no longer have a balance.

Felton’s words were met with cheers and tears by the graduating class and their loved ones as it was revealed that the student balances had been cleared by an anonymous donor.

Typical tuition, including room and board, costs $17,500 per student at Wiley, but the college reported that due to pandemic challenges, many were unable to pay balances. .

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“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled. We are constantly communicating with donors to help students in this way so they can begin their post-college experience with less debt,” Felton said in a statement on behalf of the institution. “We are grateful to this anonymous donor who will help students pay off their balances at Wiley College and help us achieve our students’ institutional graduation goals with little or no debt.”

The college estimates that the aggregate total of balances owed by the Class of 2022 was approximately $300,000.

HBCUs (especially private ones, like Wiley College) rely heavily on donations and gifts from alumni and other donors because graduates of these universities are more likely to suffer from a generational wealth gap.

“Even for families where the parents were college educated and had stable jobs, because they later started generating wealth, they are able to do less for the next generation,” the president said. of Morehouse College, David A. Thomas. US News and World Report. “Their children, their nephews, etc. The effects ripple through communities. To the positives for the white community and a lot to the negatives for the black community. »

According to data from College Tuition Compare, the average tuition (and fees) for HBCU graduates is approximately $15,043 for out-of-state students, with 50 of the nation’s HBCUs being public. and 51 being private.

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