Langston University announced this week it will clear student balances for a second time in recent years to “lessen the burden” of those enrolled in the school.

More than $4.5 million in student debt is being canceled at the historically Black university in Oklahoma, Langston President Kent J. Smith Jr. said last week in a letter to the university community.

The initiative brings the amount of debt cleared by the university to more than $9.2 million over the past two years. In 2021, Langston officials cleared $4.6 million in debt. 

Funding to clear the debt came from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), a federal government program established in 2020 to financially support academic institutions through the Covid-19 pandemic.   

This year’s initiative will impact students not currently enrolled at the institution as well as those enrolled throughout the summer 2022, fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

In a memo released Wednesday, Kent J. Smith, president of Langston, said the institution “has sought ways to lessen the burden and remove barriers to degree completion” for students.

Founded in 1897, the university is the only historically Black college or university in the state of Oklahoma and enrolls approximately 3,000 students across three campuses. About 70% of the student body are first-generation college students.

University officials say they will not be refunding or reversing past payments already made on balances.

Dozens of other HBCUs–including Clark Atlanta University, South Carolina State University and Spelman College–have cleared student account balances with grant funding since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.