A global pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout has made life tough on a lot of Americans. That is especially true for college students, who have watched their tuition and rent remain mostly unchanged while their hopes of finding employment dwindled.
Thursday brought some rare and welcomed good news to a few dozen Alabama State University graduating seniors.
In a surprise ceremony, ASU officials announced that the seniors’ student debts at the school had been cleared, thanks to donations from alumni and a generous $250,000 grant from Regions Bank Foundation.
“ASU’s mission was to reduce students’ financial stress and to help clear the final hurdle before graduating,” ASU president Quinton Ross said. “I want to thank (Regions officials) for helping us to make this such a remarkable day for these deserving students who have benefitted from the generosity of the Regions Foundation and that of the ASU alumni who participated in the ‘Cross the Finish Line’ campaign.”
The “Cross the Finish Line” campaign generated more than $16,000 in donations. Combined, the Regions Foundation gift and campaign donations will aid seniors this year and next to clear fees for routine costs associated with attending classes on campus. The students held an average of $2,500 in fees, but some students owed as much as $4,500.
The announcement of the payoffs came during a surprise event, at which students believed they were attending to receive financial advice and instructions on how to pay off their debts to ASU. Instead, Ross and Regions market executive for the Montgomery area, Robert Birmingham, informed them that their debts had been wiped clean.
“Regions Bank has proudly supported Alabama State University for many years,” Birmingham said. “Through our work with HBCU’s across the communities we serve, we’ve been part of the many celebrations and events at ASU over the years. We see ourselves as true community partners and investors in ASU students, faculty and alumni. We are proud to be a longtime supporter of Alabama State. And, we are proud to stand together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of students here today and those who follow behind them.”