While many are waiting for Joe Biden to make good on his promise to pay off student loan debt, South Carolina State University (SCSU) took matters into their own hands in an unprecedented move.
They paid off nearly $10 million of their students’ debt, allowing thousands of students to return to school.
SCSU Acting President Alexander Conyers made his first major move when he announced on July 15 that the university would clear account balances of more than 2,500 continuing students.
This bold move will allow those students to return to class as their debt has been paid.
The move came about when the university realized that many students were severely impacted by the pandemic and could not pay their student loan debt simply because they couldn’t afford it. With unpaid debt, students cannot register for the next semester and are forced to drop out.
“We are committed to providing these students with a clear path forward so they can continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control,” Conyers said in the official statement. He continues, “Our university was founded on the tenet of providing students with access to a quality affordable education. That’s exactly what we intend to do. No student should have to sit home because they can’t afford to pay their past due debt after having experienced the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic.”
Where did the money come from that afforded SCSU to pay $9.8 million off for their students?
The federal government.
Approximately $4 million is from the Cares Act funds, and the additional $5.8 million was recently awarded to the university, allotted from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Though Conyers won’t meet every single person his decision has directly impacted, he certainly understands the gravity of the choice he’s made. Many students are sincerely grateful for what he is doing.
“Honestly, hearing this news brings tears to my eyes,” said Leslie Young, a freshman from Santee, South Carolina. She was forced to sit out the spring semester because she didn’t have the money to pay her tuition. “My family is very low income. I was in a deep depression because school means everything to me. Without it, I felt like I was giving up on my dreams.”
Another student expressed his gratitude, as he already carries a major weight on his shoulders. “This is a tremendous weight I won’t have to carry,” Romaun Myers, a junior from Summerville, said. “I’m a first-generation college student, one of the only boys on my mom’s side of the family. I have to make it so I can provide for my family.”
Conyers isn’t the only one hoping that this provides the financial relief students need to relieve their anxiety and continue their education.
It’s a huge win for students and faculty alike.
“This news means so much to our student body and their families,” said South Carolina State Student Government Association President Javonni Ayers. “We are grateful that our administration decided to put the concerns of our students first and relieve the stress and burdens that most families experienced during this pandemic. We are giving our students another opportunity to chase and realize their dreams, and that’s what we call Bulldog tenacity.”
Will this lead to other universities following suit?