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Philander Smith Wipes Out Graduates’ Balances

Philander Smith Wipes Out Graduates’ Balances

Donations from Jack and Jill Foundation’s College GAP Fund and Alumni Help Meet Need


Little Rock, Ark. (May 12, 2021) – Philander Smith College is being praised by grateful students and appreciative parents for closing out approximately $80,000 of outstanding balances held by graduates in both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021.

Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., president of Philander Smith College, made the surprise announcement on Saturday, May 8, during commencement ceremonies. “We are immensely excited to be able to do this for our new graduates. And, although this gesture may not entirely eliminate their student debt load, it will certainly allow them to receive their diplomas immediately. Armed with their credentials, they will be free to pursue a graduate education or take those first steps towards their chosen careers with one less burden to bear,” he said. 

Along with donations made by the College’s alumni and other private gifts, Philander Smith College received a $54,000 grant from the Jack and Jill Foundation’s College GAP Fund in this effort.

“The recipients of the JJ College GAP Fund are so deserving of this assistance. They are bright, talented students on the brink of graduation with a small unmet financial need. We don’t just offer this financial relief as an incentive. Rather, it’s more of a necessity, providing students with the financial support necessary to cross the finish line,” said Pier Blake, executive director of the Jack and Jill Foundation.

President Smothers added, “We appreciate the Jack and Jill Foundation for this tremendous support to our scholars which demonstrates their commitment and dedication to supporting the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.”

In a ceremony that was delayed by a year due to COVID-19, Philander Smith College conferred degrees on 120 students in the Class of 2020, while approximately 175 degrees were conferred upon the Class of 2021.