Cheyney gets $4M scholarship boost as school officials promise a balanced budget

Cherri Gregg
July 08, 2019 - 3:03 pm
Left: Cheyney University President Aaron A. Walton

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Cheyney University could be turning a corner after years of financial struggle. The institution's president says he's confident they've balanced the budget, and state lawmakers have provided a multimillion dollar boost for students.

Pennsylvania lawmakers allocated $3.9 million for the Keystone Honors Academy that will specifically go towards scholarships for Cheyney students. 

State Sen. Vincent Hughes says the amount is nearly double the $2.3 million allocation for last year. 

"That's the indication that the state is committed, that the governor is committed to Cheyney University and believes that Cheyney is going in the right direction, and this resurgence is significant and is moving in the right direction," Hughes said.

The Keystone Honors Academy was created two decades ago to deal with segregation in higher education in Pennsylvania. The state dollars pay for high achieving students to attend Cheyney, which has seen its enrollment numbers drop to below 500 students, with less than 170 getting diplomas in 2019.

"From a budgetary perspective, we are very optimistic," said Aaron Walton, Cheyney University's president.

Walton predicts more scholarship money will attract better quality students and he predicts this fall, they'll have nearly 650 students enrolled.

Related: Cheyney University president: school expects to post balanced budget by end of fiscal year

"Seventy-five percent of our students qualify for Pell Grants, etc.," he said. 

As for Cheyney's bottom line, as of June 30, Walton says he's optimistic that they've balanced the budget for the third year in a row. 

Once it's confirmed later this month, the state will forgive the last $10 million of Cheyney's $30 million debt, leaving the historically black college on solid financial footing for the first time in the past decade.

"It will help the accrediting body look more favorably at Cheyney," Walton added.

The university is up for reaccreditation in November. 

Under Walton's leadership, the school slashed its budget and created partnerships that many believe will lead to a Cheyney resurgence.