Langston University in Oklahoma has taken steps to remove $4.5 million worth of student debt.
Imagine a world where Colleges and Universities acted in their students’ best interest instead of lining their institutions’ coffers with surplus cash reserves. At a time when most students leave their institutes of higher education with a massive amount of debt, either to the University itself or a financial institution that has loaned them money to attend, Langston University in Oklahoma has taken measures to remove that obstacle from its student body.
The University announced this week that it would clear $4.5 million in student debts from its books. According to CNN, “The initiative brings the amount of debt cleared by the University to more than $9.2 million over the past two years. In 2021, Langston officials cleared $4.6 million in debt, according to the University.” This is the second time they have wiped clean all outstanding student debts in two years.
The first question most people are asking themselves right now is how it is even possible for the University to clean the financial slate of their student debt and still operate the University if their primary source of income is tuition. The answer is that during the pandemic, Langston University began receiving funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, established in 2021, to support academic institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic financially. Langston University is a historically black University, and since the pandemic had disproportionately people of the black community, they felt that this was just the right thing to do with these funds.
They felt that the best way to serve its students, both past and present, was to remove the financial burden placed on these students and alumni that impacts their ability to make forward progress in their lives. It is unclear exactly how many students were positively impacted. However, we know it will be applied to students who attended the University throughout summer 2022, fall 2022, and spring 2023 semesters. The funds will clear any balance due and have caused a hold precluding them from receiving their transcripts or enrolling in classes.
Rebecca Gambor is a Langston University sophomore and is majoring in Broadcast Journalism. Rebecca’s mother had to get a second job so that they could pay for her daughter to continue her education in the hopes of helping her be successful in her chosen career field. When Rebecca saw her $4,000 balance disappear from her statement, she immediately phoned her mother to relay the good news.
Rebecca hopes that this student debt forgiveness allows her mother to return to only working one full-time job. There are similar stories from other students on the Langston University campus about the level of relief this brings to their families. The decision has students and parents rejoicing, knowing that this is not a common practice by an institution of higher learning.
The only other known University that has done something similar is Clark Atlanta University which used the substantial amount of money it received under the CARES act in 2021. It will be interesting to see if other Universities follow suit and put their student’s best interests first by eliminating their student debt. We will have to wait and see how that turns out, but I wouldn’t hold your breath because Universities have always been good at procuring funds and not as savvy in giving those funds away