Langston University clears over $4.5 million in student debt balances


(LANGSTON, Okla.) — Langston University has announced the clearance of over $4.5 million in student debt balances.

The historically black institution will, for the second time, use funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to cancel student account balances. The first time Langston University canceled student account balances was in August 2021, with a clearance amount of $4,654,112.

The amount of debt cleared through the new initiative is $4,587,485. The two debt clearance initiatives, August 2021 and March 2023, total over $9.2 million in cancelled funds.

This year’s initiative will impact students enrolled throughout the summer 2022, fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

In a memo released Wednesday, Kent J. Smith, president of Langston, said the institution “has sought ways to lessen the burden and remove barriers to degree completion” for students.

Founded in 1897, the university is the only historically Black college or university in the state of Oklahoma and enrolls approximately 3,000 students across three campuses. About 70% of the student body are first generation college students.

University officials say they will not be refunding or reversing past payments already made on balances.

The new clearance “includes students not currently enrolled at the institution as well as those enrolled during summer 2022 or fall 2022 who will now be cleared of any hold preventing them from receiving an official transcript due to a balance,” Smith’s memo reads.

Smith’s memo also mentioned an additional structural change made in “means of removing obstacles” for students.

The university registrar will now consider late applications for graduation due to the award’s timing. Any students now eligible to apply for graduation as a result of debt clearance will have until March 31 to apply for commencement.

Dozens of other HBCUs–including Clark Atlanta University, South Carolina State University and Spelman College–have cleared student account balances with grant funding since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.