Grambling State University has been an ambitious institution, earning a name for itself with coveted academic opportunities and world-renowned sports programs. Over the years Grambling has racked up debts to get to where it is today. Yet a new decision means the school will not be under such a heavy financial burden in the new year. Read the full statement below for details on this landmark decision.

Grambling State University will see a direct financial benefit from passage of the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act, which includes the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Capital Finance Debt Relief Act.

Approximately $87 million in debt relief will come to Grambling State from this congressional action. The total includes $80 million for student housing and $7 million for the natatorium and intramural facilities.

The Grambling State University campus, courtesy of Grambling

Debt relief through the Coronavirus Act is another milestone in Grambling State’s continuous fiscal improvement. Over the past four years, GSU leaders have played a significant role in lobbying for debt relief by presenting to congressional leaders and working with national advocacy partners. The strategy started in 2016 with refinancing its debt through the HBCU Capital Financing Program that yielded annual savings of $1.2 million. This action, supported by an intentional focus on revenue diversification and cost containment, fueled a 100% improvement in the fiscal health score of the institution. Combined with recent news of its 10-year reaffirmation by SACSCOC, this additional financial achievement places Grambling State on a sustainable path for continued growth and development.

“We are grateful to Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the members of our congressional delegation for their advocacy,” said Grambling State University President Rick Gallot. “The relief package will be a great benefit for institutions like Grambling State and many others who work daily to develop the next generation of game-changers.”

“Retirement of this debt opens the door to a new financial future for HBCUs,” said Martin Lemelle, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Grambling State University. “It will enable us to sustain our operations and invest in the next generation of student success.”

Grambling State University technology students, courtesy of ABC’s KTBS3

In addition to congressional support, the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act was endorsed by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO).

“The HBCU community has celebrated many legislative victories over the past few years and this is the biggest victory yet,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President and CEO of TMCF. “The allocation of $1.7 billion in direct aid to HBCUs, PBIs (Predominantly Black Institutions) and other MSIs (Minority Serving Institutions) discharging of over $1 billion in HBCU Capital Finance Program debt, increase in Title III aid and Pell is Congress demonstrating once again its bipartisan support for our institutions and their students. After this challenging year on so many fronts, this infusion of resources and relief sends a clear signal that the future is bright for HBCUs and PBIs.”

The legislation also includes the largest expansion of the Pell Grant program in a decade; simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to ensure students get the support they need; and restores Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated persons. The expanded Pell Grant program will result in hundreds of thousands of students becoming newly qualified and millions of current recipients receiving larger awards. Additionally, the bill restores Pell Grant eligibility for students defrauded by their institutions.