100 students are walking across the stage debt-free from Wiley College after an anonymous donor pays paid their balances.
The East Texas historically Black college released a newsletter saying that the students were at graduation when the school’s president, Herman J. Felton Jr., made the announcement, informing graduates they “do not owe the college a penny.”
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“If you have a balance, you had a balance,” Felton Jr. said at the graduation. “You no longer have a balance.” The estimated total balance owed by the graduating class of 2022 was around $300,000, as stated in the newsletter.
“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled,” the president 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.”
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“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.”
The college is widely known for the inspiration behind the 2007 Denzel Washington film “The Great Debaters” which followed Wiley winning over the University of Southern California’s nationally-known team in 1935.
Wiley College was founded in 1873 in Marshall, Texas. The Historically Black College’s (HBCU) mission is to be “a premier liberal arts institution, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, with an intentional focus on social good and leadership.”