HBCU Saint Augustine’s University Clears $9 Million In Student Debt In Much Needed Relief

The Raleigh, N.C., school joins other Black colleges in removing the financial burden caused by the financial crisis.

Saint Augustine’s University announced that it would clear its students’ debt from the 2021 spring, summer, and fall semesters after federal, state, and private aid factors are considered, school officials said in a statement Tuesday (June 29).

The private HBCU located in Raleigh, N.C., decided because of the financial challenges faced by its students as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. After completion of their FAFSA application for student aid, balances will be marked at zero, the school says.

“We are pleased to offer this timely support to our students,” Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail, the school’s president, said in a statement. “At Saint Augustine’s University, we are committed to delivering on our promise to be one of the nation’s best universities for personalized education, student life, and affordability.”

The estimated relief will be more than $9 million, and about 800 Pell Grant-eligible students will be helped, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The funding comes from money Saint Augustine’s received from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which was part of the CARES act from earlier this year.
Saint Augustines joins other HBCUs that have been forgiving or canceling student debt during the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. Wilberforce University in Ohio, for example, canceled the debt of its graduates in a surprise announcement at its commencement ceremonies in May.
Delaware State University in Dover, Del., also used COVID relief fund money to cancel more than $730,000 in student debts, as did Shaw University, another private college in Raleigh, to the tune of $116,000.
The largest example is that of billionaire Robert F. Smith eliminated $40 million in student debt for the graduates of Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 2019.
RELATED: Who Is Robert F. Smith? Meet The Black Billionaire Who Paid Off Morehouse Grads’ Student Loan Debt
According to Inside Higher Ed, Black college graduates carry an average of about $52,000 in student debt when they receive their degrees and owe an average of about $25,000 more than their white counterparts.
Students at Saint Augustine’s said the cancelation would go a long way toward preventing heavy debt that would take years to pay off.
“I come from a low income, single-parent household and I am a first-generation high school graduate and first-generation college student,” said McKenzie Estep, Saint Augustine’s senior in a statement. “This type of support brings me one step closer to reaching my dream of starting a career with less debt and becoming financially stable.”

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