Spelman College is latest HBCU to cancel tuition balances

The relief brings new hope for thousands of students looking to re-enroll.

July 28, 2021, 3:09 PM

Spelman College announced it will use federal funding to clear outstanding tuition balances for the past academic year of to address the financial hardships of students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The historically Black college based in Atlanta, Georgia, will also offer a one-time 14% discount on tuition for the 2021-2022 academic school year and rollback mandatory fees to the 2017-2018 rate.

"This reset to the lower tuition rates of four years ago will have a long-term impact on affordability," said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman, in a statement Tuesday.

The Spelman College financial relief comes after Clark Atlanta University, a neighboring HBCU in Atlanta, announced it would cancel outstanding tuition balances for the spring 2020 and summer 2021 semesters.

"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," Dr. George T. French, President of Clark Atlanta University, said in a statement last Friday.

PHOTO: Students listen to a discussion at a Spelman Convocation at Spelman College on Nov. 17, 2016, in Atlanta, Ga.
Students listen to a discussion at a Spelman Convocation at Spelman College on Nov. 17, 2016, in Atlanta, Ga.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images, FILE

For Ta'Lar Scott, a 21-year-old junior at Clark Atlanta University, having her $500 tuition balance canceled was the fresh start she needed to re-enroll to finish her undergraduate degree in social work after taking a semester off.

Like thousands of HBCU students, Scott has relied on federal grants and student loans to pay for her college education. With aspirations of becoming a teacher and now as an expectant mother, paying for school expenses in addition to re-enrollment was so daunting she considered not attending the fall semester.

"I was going to take this semester off and it was really because I knew I had a balance," Scott told ABC News. "The university clearing my balance up kind of pushed me and let me know that I can do this. I'll be fine. Regardless, I'll have to learn how to adjust, which I've been doing all my life."

HBCUs received approximately $2.6 billion through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, a $40 billion funding allocation set aside for higher education as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College are the latest of over 20 HBCUs using federal funding to provide financial relief and emergency funds for students in recent months. South Carolina State University, Delaware State University and Wilberforce University used federal COVID relief dollars to cancel student loan debt for eligible students.

ABC News' Jianna Cousin contributed to this report.