June 1, 2021 2:11:35 pm
As students around the world tried their best to get used to remote learning amid the pandemic, there were still many worries bogging them down, especially the graduates. With uncertainty looming over securing job amid the crisis, the burden of hefty students loans left many uneasy. However, one university in The United States is winning hearts online after it cancelled debts of all students who graduated in 2020 and 2021.
Wilberforce University, which is the country’s oldest private university located in southwestern Ohio, on Saturday took outgoing students by surprise when it made an announcement during its commencement ceremony. University President Dr Elfred Anthony Pinkard, while addressing the students, shared that debt of students graduating during the pandemic will be erased — something which many dubbed “need of the hour” on social media.
“As these graduates begin their lives as responsible adults, we are honored to be able to give them a fresh start by relieving their student debt to the university,” Dr Pinkard said from the podium. The graduates erupted in joy and celebrated upon hearing the surprising news. Soon, the moment went viral online.
Watch the moment here:
According to a post by the university, “The total tally that has been cleared from all Wilberforce students enrolled in 2020 and 2021 exceeds $375,000”.
The university said the money to erase the debt came from various scholarship programs and institutional funds. “The university’s debt erasing dollars are resourced from various scholarships such as the United Negro College Fund, Inc., Jack and Jill, Inc., and other institutional funding to help students from last year’s spring and fall semesters and spring 2021 with their higher education finances,” the institution explained.
“I couldn’t believe it when he said it,” said 2021 graduate Rodman Allen in a statement released by the school. “It’s a blessing. I know God will be with me. I’m not worried. I can use that money and invest into my future.”
“During the ceremony I was thinking, ‘I have to pay all this debt back…I have to get a job…[but] as soon as Dr. Pinkard said ‘debt free’ I didn’t have to worry about anything else,’” another student Joshua Spears told WDTN.
While students will still be responsible for federal loans and debts owed to other organisations, students say this gift is helping them to start the next phase of their lives on a brighter note, the report added. As the news was celebrated online Dr Pinkard hoped that it will inspire students to pay it forward.
The move garnered lots of praise online, with many hoping other universities too do the same.
Wilberforce University is a private — historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio.
This is awesome. Wilberforce University for the win… https://t.co/NYLVr5VzGQ
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) May 30, 2021
Awesome. A good fresh start on the next chapter of their lives. 👏 https://t.co/R9V1nde1gd
— shaye anderson (@sandersonNDP) May 31, 2021
That’s hard ✊🏾. Biden should follow https://t.co/Qlw9HixMTu
— E (@Deuce_Cl2b) May 31, 2021
It’s so easy to give people a fighting chance. https://t.co/zCJ9Rn17yF
— ᒍᗩᔕOᑎ ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏿 (@_jtuttle) May 31, 2021
— Kerry French (@KFrenchy5) May 30, 2021
Brought tears to my eyes to see these young people rise in joy to hear that they have no education debt to start their careers.
In America, it should always be that way! https://t.co/bW7jxnkL23
— RATHSK (@stekelrat) May 31, 2021
Keep going, keep growing , and keep pushing. Smart words from a young man.
— Scheimpflug Principle (@kwyzner) May 31, 2021
This is incredible. What a beautiful gift in times like these. ❤️
— Michelle Dombrowski (@MichelleDombro8) May 31, 2021
Brought tears to my eyes! The overwhelming burden of student debt is real and can last decades. So happy for these young men and women as they begin their new adventures in life!
— Idaho Native (@NativeIdaho) May 31, 2021
The student loan forgiveness came at a time when President Joe Biden dropped student loan cancellation from the latest budget this year.
However, it’s not the first time since the pandemic hit that the university decided to ease the burden on pupils. Last year, all its students were relieved of financial pressure “through the Higher Education Emergency Relied Fund (HEERF), set up through the CARES Act, which provided colleges and universities emergency financial aid.”
Earlier this month, Delaware State University also cancelled up to $730,000 in student loan debt for more than 220 graduates.
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