Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is the latest HBCU to clear its students’ account balances. President Dr. George T. French, Jr. announced Friday (July 23) that all money owed to the university for Spring 2020 – Summer 2021 will be “canceled and cleared.”
A statement via the school’s website specified that CAU is canceling all student account balances for the Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 semesters. The private Methodist Atlanta-based school also mentioned that the generous gesture will not affect students’ future financial aid eligibility.
“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “Their academic and professional future is important to me and the entire Clark Atlanta University family. We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”
The initiative was made possible partially due to the support CAU has received from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The CARES Act allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately $14 billion of that amount was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the HEERF.
The influx of money has allowed CAU to support students by providing emergency financial aid dollars, refunding a pro-rated amount of housing and meal charges for Spring 2020, discounting tuition and fees for the entire 2020-2021 academic year, purchasing 4,000 laptops from Dell Computers for every financially enrolled student and giving students with limited or no internet access in their homes hotspots.
Wilberforce University in Ohio recently announced at a joint commencement ceremony in May that it was clearing the debts of all 2020 and 2021 graduates who owed money to the institution. Delaware State, Shaw University and South Carolina State, among other HBCUs, have taken similar steps to relieve students of financial obligations.