Five college students were certainly made “Happy” on Friday when they discovered that musician and producer Pharrell Williams would be paying off their student loan debt. The announcement was made during Williams’ annual “Something In The Water” festival in Washington, D.C.
The three-day information and music festival featured panels where students discussed topics such as finances, preparation for life after high school, the need for curiosity, and music history.
One of the soon-to-be debt-free students was North Texas native Channing Hill of Bedford.
Hill had racked up over $18,000 in college debt on top of her parents’ debt for her four-year degree from Howard University.
Hill, a senior, was participating in a panel discussion at the festival entitled “HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and the Burden of Student Debt,” where students from such institutions shared their experiences, concerns, and positive outlooks on the intersection of education and employment.
Hill posted videos of the moment she and the other members of the panel were told Williams, along with the NAACP, would pay off their loans.
“Today, I enter my senior year with a clean slate… My god. I’m still in disbelief,” she wrote in the caption.
In addition to Hill, other student l having their debts paid off include Robyn Hughes, a junior from Southern University; Damarius Davis, an alumnus of North Carolina AT; Jamie Turner, an alumnus of Norfolk State University; and Devan Vilfrard, a senior at Florida A&M University. All five will have their student loan debt cleared thanks to Pharrell and the NAACP.
Following the panels, several artists performed on Independence Avenue, including the Dave Matthews Band, Post Malone, and Williams himself.
The average student loan debt grew by $5,697 from 2019 to 2021, based on recent statistics from EducationData.org. According to Credible.com, the total student loan debt in the U.S. is $1.75 trillion, with an average per student of $39,351.