Student Freedom Initiative Expands to 34 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) Across 18 States; and Aims to Support Hispanic and Asian American Students

Program continues to build on its collaborative, holistic approach to increase students’ economic and social mobility and expands to Hispanic and Asian American students

WASHINGTON, DC – August 23, 2022 – Today, Student Freedom Initiative announced the next round of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that will participate in its program.

The addition of 14 institutions increases the number of states with schools participating in Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent PLUS Component from 10 to 16 and the number of participating schools from 20 to 34. This addition provides Student Freedom Initiative with the potential to positively impact over 15,986 additional students supported by this component.

The selected institutions include the following MSIs: Alabama State University (AL), Albany State University (GA), Bennett College (NC), Central State University (OH), City California State University, Long Beach (CA), University of NY (CUNY) – Hunter College (NY), Morris College (SC), Lincoln University (PA), Saint Augustine’s University (NC), Stillman College (AL), University of California – Riverside (CA), Virginia State University (VA), West Virginia State University (WV), and Wilberforce University (OH).[1]

“West Virginia State University is excited to join Student Freedom Initiative’s fall 2023 cohort of schools,” said Ericke S. Cage, President of West Virginia State University. “This program provides incredible opportunities to students at our sister HBCUs across the nation, and we know that our students here at WVSU will similarly benefit through the financial freedom, internship opportunities, tutoring, mentoring and support that Student Freedom Initiative provides.”

“We are excited by the 149% increase in students who will benefit from Student Freedom Initiative’s programs. This is remarkable growth since we first started this journey with nine participating HBCUs,” said Robert F. Smith, Founder and Board Chairman of Student Freedom Initiative, and Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. “Our team has remained true to our original vision to provide educational and professional opportunities to first-generation, low-income students. Thanks to the success of Student Freedom Initiative’s partnerships with HBCUs and to further drive diversification across industries, we made a decision that this cohort needed to include Hispanic Serving Institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions to truly be an organization dedicated to inclusive growth.”

City University of NY (CUNY) Hunter College, University of California-Riverside, and California State University Long Beach (CSULB)expand Student Freedom Initiative’s programming to meet the needs of students at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).

“We are honored and excited to participate in the next cohort of universities in the Student Freedom Initiative,” said Kim A. Wilcox, chancellor of UC Riverside. “As a leader in social mobility, UC Riverside continues to seek innovative approaches for increasing economic opportunity and resilience for our students. The core values of Student Freedom Initiative align well with our goals as a research university.”

“The innovative programs of the Initiative are additional tools in our work to bring the transformative power of education to all,” said Dr. Jane Close Conoley, president of California State University, Long Beach. “We applaud the Initiative and the investors who have stepped up to advance equity and support lasting social mobility for students at The Beach.”

“Hunter College is committed to increasing opportunities for our students and could not be more excited to partner with Student Freedom Initiative,” said Jennifer J. Raab, President of Hunter College. “As a historically Minority Serving Institution, Hunter ensures that our students graduate with little-to-no debt, and having had opportunities to build their professional resumes — in lockstep with SFI’s mission of ensuring that a lack of opportunity and the cost of a college degree never stand in the way of achieving the American Dream.”

With the addition of the 11 HBCUs, Student Freedom Initiative is now engaged with 48 HBCUs participating in one or more components of the program in a total of 18 states.  This represents approximately 48% of all HBCUs.

About Student Freedom Initiative

A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative aims to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education. This is achieved by providing a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (“MSIs”) by increasing their social and economic mobility using a student centric, evidence based, holistic, and collaborative approach. Initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Student Freedom Initiative enables mobility through four transformational components: (1) Student Freedom Fund as an income contingent alternative to Parent Plus loans, (2) Internships and industry-driven certifications, (3) Tutoring/Mentorships/Other Services, and (4) Targeted HBCU Capacity Building (e.g., access to affordable broadband, strengthening endowment governance and risk adjusted returns, workforce development in clean energy).  Student Freedom Initiative collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses, and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire HBCU ecosystem.

To date, Student Freedom Initiative has received generous contributions from Robert F. Smith, Fund 2 Foundation, Cisco, Jane Street, Prudential, and the Walmart Foundation. The program has also been acknowledged and supported by the Business Roundtable's Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education. Our ability to provide support to MSI students is based on the continued financial support of these donors and others interested in supporting our mission.

To learn more, visit or find us on Twitter @StudentFreedom.


Dafna Tapiero

[1] The institutions do not endorse Student Freedom Initiative’s income contingent alternative to other loan products and Student Freedom Initiative is not affiliated with these institutions.