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MARSHALL, Texas — The graduating class of 2022 at Wiley College, one of the nation’s oldest Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU), just had any remaining school debt wiped clean during their graduation ceremony.

Over 100 students gathered on the Pemberton Sports Complex Field to participate in Wiley College’s 133rd Commencement Convocation and were surprised when they were informed that their balances were cleared by President & CEO Herman J. Felton, Jr. J.D., Ph.D.

“You are debt free, you do not owe the college a penny,” Wiley College President Felton said to a cheering audience. “If you have a balance, you had a balance. You no longer have a balance.”

The 2007 movie “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington was inspired by the 1935 debate when Wiley overcame the University of Southern California’s nationally-known, powerhouse team at a time when the nation was heavily segregated.

The estimated total for balances owed to the College by the graduating class is $300,000. An anonymous donor stepped in and agreed to pay off the class’ debt.

“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled. 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,” President Felton said.

HBCU Graduates Earn Higher Salaries, Wiley College supports students

HBCU enrollment is becoming increasingly enticing for Black students across the country, and according to a new study of 10 HBCUs, Black graduates end up earning higher salaries than Black grads from other universities in their states.

A recent independent study by OnlineU, using publicly available data from the Equitable Value Explorer, compared the salaries for HBCU grads with the salaries for other Black grads in the state with a similar education.

According to the study, Xavier University ranks No. 1 for higher payoffs. For instance, the median salary for a Black graduate from Xavier U sits at $52,582 compared to $36,962 for Black graduates from other universities in Louisiana.

The $15,000 difference illustrates the immense financial impact HBCUs have on Black grads so for the Wiley College graduates, having their debt paid off is a huge boost in their post-college life.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...