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LIBRARY scsu at night bulldog illustration

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The bulldog statue stands at the Chestnut Street entrance of South Carolina State University.

In his first major executive decision, South Carolina State Acting President Alexander Conyers announced Thursday that the university will clear account balances of more than 2,500 continuing students.

The move will provide much-needed relief to students who were previously unable to return to college due to financial hardship caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are committed to providing these students with a clear path forward so they can continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control,” Conyers said. “Our university was founded on the tenet of providing students with access to a quality affordable education. That’s exactly what we intend to do. No student should have to sit home because they can’t afford to pay their past due debt after having experienced the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic.”

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The vast majority of the students set to receive notification of aid beginning Thursday are continuing students not yet registered because of past due account balances and students who stopped out of college entirely because they and their families could not afford to pay.

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“Honestly, hearing this news brings tears to my eyes,” said Leslie Young, a freshman from Santee who had to sit out the spring semester because she didn’t have the money to pay tuition. “My family is very low income. I was in a deep depression because school means everything to me. Without it, I felt like I was giving up on my dreams.”

“This is a tremendous weight I won’t have to carry,” said Romaun Myers, a junior from Summerville. “I’m a first-generation college student, one of the only boys on my mom’s side of the family. I have to make it so I can provide for my family.”

“This is really a big blessing,” said Kevyn Rice, a junior from Spartanburg. “This gives students a new opportunity at life and at having a successful education. It helps bring some stability and lets me know I am welcomed at our HBCU. I’m so honored to be a SCSU student.”

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SC State is utilizing some $9.8 million in aid received from the federal government. About $4 million are Cares Act funds. An additional $5.8 recently awarded to the university are funds allotted from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Student leaders believe this financial support will give students an advantage and eliminate the anxiety many families have experienced since the pandemic hit.

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“This news means so much to our student body and their families,” S.C. State Student Government Association President Javonni Ayers said. “We are grateful that our administration decided to put the concerns of our students first and relieve the stress and burdens that most families experienced during this pandemic. We are giving our students another opportunity to chase and realize their dreams; and that’s what we call Bulldog tenacity.”

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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