During their commencement ceremony on Saturday, over 100 graduates at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, found out that an anonymous donor had paid off their class’ student debt.
Herman J. Felton Jr., the president and CEO of Wiley College, informed the graduating class of 2022 of the news during his commencement speech at the historically Black college.
The school posted a clip of the special moment on its Twitter account.
“You are debt-free; you do not owe the college a penny,” Felton said to cheers and applause. “If you have a balance, you had a balance. You no longer have a balance.”
The class of 2022 had owed a balance totaling $300,000.
Felton talked about the importance of helping students with mounting college costs in a Wiley College press release.
“Our commitment to our students goes beyond their time while they are enrolled,” Felton said. “We are constantly communicating with donors to assist students in these ways so that they can begin their after-college experience with less debt.”
Felton said he’s grateful for the anonymous donor, whose donation will help the college “achieve institutional goals of graduating our students with little to no debt.”
Wiley College did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.
While Wiley College had reduced its tuition to $17,500, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated students’ ability to pay their balances, according to the school.
Recently, President Joe Biden said his administration is weeks away from a decision on student loan forgiveness.
“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction. I am not considering $50,000 in debt reduction,” Biden said in response to questions from reporters about how much debt he would cancel per borrower. “I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness, and I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”
Prior to the anonymous donation to Wiley College, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $20 million to Morehouse College in 2020, and billionaire Robert Smith gifted $34 million to the graduating class of Morehouse in 2019.