CHEYNEY, Pa. (CBS) — Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the country’s first historically Black college and university, will use its pandemic federal aid to forgive student balances from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.

In a release, the university says the decision came “[i]n light of the financial and emotional hardships that students and their families have experienced” from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 70% of Cheyney students are Pell Grant recipients.

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“Our students have gone through a lot over the past 18 months, and we want to do whatever we can to lighten the burden,” President Aaron A. Walton said in the release, adding, “Our protocols have kept our campus safe throughout this ordeal, and now with this financial weight lifted from our students, we look forward to seeing them on campus in the upcoming fall semester with their minds focused on their studies, not their debt.”

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The university said Friday it also refunded a portion of student fees, as well as provided emergency grants for students in Spring 2020 and Spring 2021.

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Cheyney is not the first area school to use federal funds this way; earlier this week, La Salle University unveiled a plan to relieve student debts that totaled more than $522,000.