This is what happened to a fortunate class of 2022 at Wiley College, a historically Black college in East Texas. According to a press release from the college, over 100 students gathered at the Pemberton Sports Complex Field for the commencement ceremony, during which President and CEO of Wiley College, Herman J. Felton, broke the exciting news.
"You are debt-free. You do not owe the college a penny."
“If you have a balance, you *had* a balance,” Felton said as graduates erupted into cheers. “You no longer have a balance.”
According to the college’s press release about the generous donation, the collective balance paid off was over $300,000. The school’s cost of attendance per year was reduced in recent years to $17,500, which includes tuition, room, and board.
“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled. We are constantly communicating with donors to assist students in these ways so that they can begin their after-college experience with less debt," Felton said.
"We are grateful for this anonymous donor who will assist the students in paying off their balances to Wiley College and help us achieve institutional goals of graduating our students with little to no debt."
The skyrocketing costs of higher education has left many without much choice as to whether they can try to enter the workforce sans college degree or incur a massive amount of debt in hopes of getting a job that could (eventually) pay off the initial loan, along with the compounding interest. The extraordinary cost of college has even sparked some debate among parents as to whether or not saving for their children’s college funds is even worth it.
Hell, some parents are still paying off *their own* student loans.
According to a survey conducted by ECMC Group, a nonprofit “aimed at helping student borrowers,” more and more kids are opting to skip college due to the costs, with only 53% of high schoolers reporting that they planned to attend a four-year college or university after high school.
The situation is even more dire for Black students. According to Education Data, Black and African American college graduates own an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates. Four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owed an average of 12.5% *more* than they initially borrowed.
This is all also happening as millions pressure the Biden Administration to relieve or cancel student loan debt as many struggle to make a living wage while paying back loans at high interest rates.