The Duke Endowment has given $2.5 million to Johnson C. Smith University to help pay for student scholarships.
The grant comes at a time when JCSU and other historically black colleges and universities allege that tougher underwriting standards for the federal Parent PLUS Loan program have made it more difficult for some black parents to qualify for student loans.
The Department of Education tightened its underwriting criteria for PLUS loans in 2011, two years after an analysis found that the denial rate for a bank-managed, guaranteed-student-loan program was twice as high as in the government-run program. After tougher standards were adopted, critics alleged that denials rose 50 percent for parents of students at historically black colleges and universities, resulting in lower admissions.
JCSU did not quantify how its enrollment was affected by the tougher loan standards.
In August, under pressure from HBCU presidents, the Education Department agreed to reconsider the changes. In addition, parents with minor credit blemishes who had been denied PLUS loans were allowed to receive loans while they appealed their initial rejections.
Approximately 85 percent of JCSU students receive some form of financial aid; 45 percent are first-generation students, and 70 percent come from low-income households, the university said Monday in a statement.
Many of todays JCSU students face significant financial barriers that result in gaps between the aid they receive and the total cost of their college education, JCSU President Ronald L. Carter said. We are grateful to The Duke Endowment for helping us maintain our commitment to this group.
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