Alternative Student Loan Initiative Launched to Aid HBCUs
Eligible junior and senior STEM majors at nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities may get the financial assistance from an alternative student loan program started by billionaire Robert F. Smith.
Smith, founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, launched the Student Freedom Initiative to help eliminate the up to $2 trillion racial wealth gap. Organizers of the initiative said 65% of Black wealth is consumed by college loan debt, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The program received its initial pledge of $50 million from Fund II Foundation in June, and Smith matched the amount in October.
Student Freedom Initiative, which plans to launch fall 2021, expects to offer about $32,000, on average, to each student across their junior and senior years, which they will be required to pay back based on their income after graduation, according to TIME.
“By addressing the financial stress of college and providing students with resources and community, we can finally broaden the talent pipeline and create a more diverse and thriving economy,” Smith said in a release.
Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Tougaloo College, Tuskegee University and Xavier University of Louisiana agreed to participate in the program.