Ohio’s Wilberforce University forgives student debt for recent grads during commencement

WILBERFORCE, Ohio — Recent graduates from Ohio’s Wilberforce University are celebrating a lot more than their new college degrees.

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According to WHIO-TV, the president of the historically Black university, Elfred Anthony Pinkard, made a surprise announcement during the school’s commencement ceremony Saturday: Students’ debts to the university are being canceled for those who graduated in 2020 and spring 2021.

“Because you have shown that you are capable of doing work under difficult circumstances, because you represent the best of your generation, we wish to give you a fresh start. So therefore, the Wilberforce University Board of Trustees has authorized me to forgive any debt,” Pinkard said as the crowd cheered. “Your accounts have been cleared, and you don’t owe Wilberforce anything.”

In a news release, the university said the funding to erase the debt came “from various scholarships, such as the United Negro College Fund Inc., Jack and Jill Inc. and other institutional funding.”

New grad Rodman Allen, of Detroit, called the news “a blessing,” according to the release.

“I can use that money and invest it into my future,” he said.

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