Students at Texas HBCU Get Ultimate Graduation Surprise: An Anonymous Donor Is Paying Off Their Balances [Video]

The 2022 graduates at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas got the surprise of a lifetime when it was announced an anonymous donor paid off their student debt.

via: People

Over 100 students gathered Saturday to celebrate their graduation from the historically Black college in East Texas, according to a press release from the school. Little did they know the school’s president and CEO, Dr. Herman J. Felton Jr., would announce during the commencement ceremony that the graduates’ remaining balances, totaling $300,000, would disappear.

“The announcement of cleared balances for graduates was a welcome surprise as students and parents were demonstrative in the audience when they heard the news,” the school said.

“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled,” Felton Jr. added in the release. “We are constantly communicating with donors to assist students in these ways so that they can begin their after-college experience with less debt. 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.”

According to the release, the school’s cost of attendance has been reduced in recent years to $17,500, which includes tuition, fees and room and board. The estimated total for balances owed to the college by the graduating class of 2022 was $300,000.

“The anonymous gift sets graduates on a continued path to success and allows Wiley College to strengthen its commitment to providing an affordable exceptional education,” Felton Jr. said. “As Wiley College closes the academic semester and prepares for its Sesquicentennial Celebrations beginning in July, this is a great way to end the semester and start the celebration of 150 years of the College’s contributions to the world.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, the school had an undergraduate enrollment of 615 students in fall 2020 and is a private institution that was founded in 1873.

In 2019, billionaire Robert Smith gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College, also an HBCU, and told students he’d take on all of their student debt, totaling $34 million, according to Smith’s website.

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