Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Spelman College in Georgia have recently announced they are canceling outstanding student balances, making them the latest historically Black colleges and universities that have eliminated student debt in recent months.
CAU President George T. French announced that the school is clearing student account balances for the spring 2020 through summer 2021 semesters. Meanwhile, Spelman College zeroed student account balances for the full 2020-2021 academic year.
“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,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell stated.
Along with canceling account balances, Spelman also cut tuition and fees by 14 percent for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year, which reset tuition and mandatory fees back to 2017-2018 rates.
The balance cancellation was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which was first established last year under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act. The Biden administration issued a bill in March that extended the $40-billion fund for students impacted by COVID-19 until September 2023.
“Our students, like students around the world, were adversely affected financially, mental health, all sorts of issues, and what we wanted to do was find a way to help them,” French said in a statement.
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.
— Clark Atlanta Univ. (@CAU) July 25, 2021
In addition to CAU and Spelman, historically Black institutions such as South Carolina State University, Wilberforce University, and Delaware State University have also made moves to clear student debt this year in response to the pandemic.