Hurricane Ian Update
September 28, 2022 Claflin Family: At approximately 4:10 p.m., South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for South Carolina. As the safety of our students, faculty and staff is a major priority, Claflin University will close and classes will be canceled on Thursday, September 29, 2022, at 12 p.m. Classes for Friday, September 30, 2022, will be held virtually. Students are encouraged to check Moodle for instructions from professors. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to seek safety away from the predicted affected (coastal) areas. Residential students who live in South Carolina or within a 4-hour radius are strongly encouraged to leave campus. However, residential students who are unable to leave campus must register with the Office of Residential Life no later than Thursday, September 29, at 10 a.m. by clicking here. The Office of Residential Life will be on-call to answer questions in case of emergencies at (803) 258-8981. The University Dining Center will operate on the following schedule: Thursday: Normal operations. No late night dining. Friday: Brunch (9 a.m. until 1 p.m.); Dinner (5 to 7 p.m.) Saturday & Sunday: Brunch (10 a.m. until 1 p.m.); Dinner (5 to 7 p.m.) * Meals will be take-out on Friday through Sunday. Pizza Hut and Starbucks will be closed. If conditions become worse (power outages, flooding, downed trees, etc.), the University will implement its emergency protocol and provide shelter and meals in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex (located on the campus of Claflin University). You are encouraged to visit the University’s website, where updates will be posted regarding University operations. Updates also will be posted through Panther Alerts (text messages), Panther X, and email. For general information and updates, please call the University’s Information Line at (803) 535-5243. In case of on-campus emergencies, please call Claflin University Public Safety at (803) 535-5444. You may also check the National Weather Service for up-to-date alerts at https://www.weather.gov/cae/

Student Freedom Initiative


The Student Freedom Initiative logo shows an illustration of a student in graduation dress with an arm raised holding a degree.

Student Freedom Initiative at Claflin University 

Claflin University is one of 9 HBCUs to begin to offer Student Freedom Initiative’s programming in 2021. It was the vision of Robert F. Smith, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, to expand student opportunity beyond his transformative liberation gift to the Morehouse College graduating class of 2019. The problem Smith aimed to help solve is the devastating statistic that 60% of African American wealth is consumed by the servicing of student loan debt, which delays the accumulation of wealth and reinvestment in Black families and communities.

This innovative program, intended to be a perpetual engine of support for students, is offered to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), with an initial emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The visionary program seeks to liberate students who possess the will to achieve excellence. 

Claflin University’s growing technology infrastructure and reputation for world-class STEM research faculty and education makes an excellent partner for Student Freedom Initiative. Claflin’s President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack welcomed the program's opportunities, saying that the program’s offerings will aid the goals of the university as it takes the lead in prioritizing student success.

“It will also help remove concerns by students and parents regarding the financial challenges of pursuing a high-quality education,” Warmack said.

A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative (“SFI”) provides 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

Student Freedom Initiative provides the following components:

  •  Income-contingent funding alternative for rising juniors and seniors 
  •  Tutoring and mentoring for all students and majors
  •  Internships for rising sophomore and above
  •  Targeted Claflin capacity building support

  • Who is Eligible at Claflin for Student Freedom Initiative?

    Student Freedom Initiative includes programming features that are open to all Claflin students, regardless of their chosen major. Program offerings include tutoring, mentoring, internships and targeted Claflin capacity building. 

    The Student Freedom Agreement, as the income-contingent funding alternative is called, is currently available to students who:

    • Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN)
    • School-approved Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (or acceptable state alternative)
    • Enrolled full-time at a participating four-year college or university, with the final year exception if less than full-time coursework is required for degree completion.
    • Rising junior or senior (by credit hours)
    • Majoring in an approved science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree-seeking program
    • Meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), as defined by your institution. 

    Please note that you are ineligible if you are in the United States with a non-immigrant visa.

     The program expects to grow and these parameters may change. The Student Freedom Initiative website will provide the latest details and updates.

    Claflin administration has approved the following majors as those which students may select in order to be eligible for a Student Freedom Agreement:

    • Computer Science
    • Computer Engineering
    • Biology
    • Biochemistry
    • Bioinformatics
    • Biotechnology
    • Biotechnology
    • Applied Math (Clemson-Only Eligible while Enrolled at Claflin during Junior Year)*
    • Mathematics
    • Mathematics (Applied Mathematics Track)
    • Chemistry
  • How Student Freedom Agreement Can Work for You

    Eligible students can apply for a Student Freedom Agreement to currently receive up to $40,000 total, with a funding cap of $20,000 per academic year. The Student Freedom Agreement is an income-contingent private educational loan currently approved for Juniors and Seniors (by credit) for the above-mentioned majors. 

    The terms of the Student Freedom Agreement are fundamental to the nonprofit status and student-centric mission of the program. Student Freedom Initiative income-contingent private educational loan, the Student Freedom Agreement, begins with equity and protection. Claflin University does not endorse Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus and other private education loans product. Claflin University is not affiliated with Student Freedom Initiative.


    At a high level, these terms include a pledge by Student Freedom Initiative:

    • To embody our commitment to equity and community, all participating students at every institution will be offered the same terms;
    • To provide participants with payment plans aligned with their income; and
    • To shield participants from excessive fees and penalties
  • How did Student Freedom Initiative get started?

    Following his now famous liberation gift to the Morehouse College Class of 2019, Robert F. Smith gathered with the presidents of nine HBCUs, including Dr. Warmack, to form a team to develop the ideas that coalesced to become Student Freedom Initiative. Together they found a solution scaled to serve an entire generation of students at MSIs and HBCUs across the country. Mr. Smith challenged the group to find a way to create a lasting program based on a ‘Pay It Forward’ paradigm by which current participants provide the funding for future students. Any profits would go back into education instead of allowing investors to profit from those least able to afford it. Finally, he charged the team to go beyond the financial aspects and include student support services and assistance for modernizing MSI/HBCU infrastructure to reach across the aisle from academia to the workplace. 

    Smith, the founding director and President of Fund II Foundation, personally provided $50 million to Student Freedom Initiative to match a $50 million grant from the Fund II Foundation to launch the program. 

Student Freedom Initiative Partners 

Claflin students participating in the programming have access to benefits provided by Partners including financial, legal, analytics, and internship programs. Initiative partners include: 

More About Student Freedom Initiative

Academic success and financial freedom is only part of our story. Find out more about what Student Freedom Initiative is all about. 

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