Wichita native sees impact as Oklahoma HBCU clears student debt

A Wichita native is among those this week seeing a total of $4.5 million of student debt cleared from accounts.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:13 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Wichita native is among those this week seeing a total of $4.5 million of student debt cleared from accounts.

Langston University in Oklahoma announced the decision Wednesday. Langston is the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the state.

“It meant a lot personally because this being my senior year, I was actually coming up on the deadline to have a zero-dollar bill in order to be able to walk the stage, so this came at a great time for me,” said Langston University senior Dejuan McPhaul.

McPhaul, from Wichita, said while this doesn’t clear out all the student loan debt he has, it will pay off the rest of the balance due to the school, so he doesn’t have to take out any more loans.

“Tears of joy. I got a text message from him saying look at this, and it showed that zero balance.” McPhaul’s mother and LU alumni, Kameelah Alexander, said. “He’s on a partial academic scholarship, which we’re very grateful for, but there’s never enough Pell Grants to cover the balance.”

Langston is a legacy for this family, and they are big university supporters.

Alexander said, “Home, it’s natural. It’s comfortable.”

“Being here, it really gave me the opportunity to be in a space separate from home,” said McPhaul.

In a letter from the University’s President, Kent J. Smith, Jr., Ph.D., he said the funds are from a U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 Grant Program, and they’re going to support the institution’s effort to remove barriers and burdens students can face in completing their degrees.

This is the second time Langston has used this grant. First, in August 2021, clearing about $4.6 million from students’ balances. This latest round clears another $4.5 million.

“For these federal funds to come down and for students and families to receive additional benefits from this, not once but twice, during my son’s tenure, there has been, I’ll use the word amazing again,” said Alexander.

She also said it shows these federal funds are coming in to support students.

This will make life a little easier for McPhaul as he prepares for life after graduation.

“Found a summer internship that should lead to bigger things,” he said.