By Alta Spells, Deanna Hackney and Susannah Cullinane, CNN
An Atlanta university says it is clearing student account balances for spring 2020 through summer 2021 to help students continue their education through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Clark Atlanta University, which is located just west of the city’s downtown, said in a news release Friday that it had received a substantial amount of support from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which had allowed it to help students.
“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” President George T. French Jr. said in the release.
“Their academic and professional future is important to me and the entire Clark Atlanta University family. We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”
Aside from tuition relief, Clark Atlanta University said federal help had allowed it to provide emergency financial aid, refund a pro-rated amount of housing and meal charges for spring 2020, purchase 4,000 Dell laptops for every financially enrolled student, and buy hotspots to give students with limited or no internet access in their homes. The university had nearly 4,000 students as of 2019, according to its website.
In a letter to Clark students announcing the move Thursday, French praised them for navigating their way through the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Not since the influenza pandemic of 1918 has our nation and the world experienced such repercussions of sickness, debilitation, and death,” he wrote. “I am personally thankful for your resilience, perseverance, and ‘find a way or make one’ attitudes.”
Clark Atlanta University isn’t the first school to help students financially because of the pandemic.
In May, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president of the historically Black university said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.
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