ATLANTA — A Clark Atlanta University student thought he would have to pack up and go back home. He was thousands of dollars short on his tuition for the year until a popular Atlanta restaurant stepped in to help.

Khalil Perry is a junior majoring in mass communications with one year to go. But there was a time he thought he wouldn’t cross the stage.

“I just went around asking for help, but I wasn’t getting the help that I needed so I felt like my back was against the wall,” he said.

But it wasn’t about his grades.

“So, I owed close to $7,000 [to] $8,000, man,” he said.

For the Houston, Texas native, it was the price of tuition.

“… and so, I didn’t know where I was going to get that money from,” he said.

So, at his final point, Khalil started a GoFundMe account. And it got the attention of Clark Atlanta alum and owner of Slutty Vegan, Pinky Cole.

“I literally just posted it and asked for help. And the right person saw it,” he said. “Pinky, she hit me up in my DM and she was like, ‘What’s going on with school?’”

It led to an emotional moment on Friday - the last day Khalil had to turn in the money.

“So, on behalf of Slutty Vegan we are going to take care of that balance,” Cole said in a video on Instagram.

“I could not believe it. I could not believe it,” Khalil said. “I literally sat there for about two minutes, man, and I thought about everything that I’ve been through these past couple of weeks. I put my blood sweat and tears into the campaign.”

Khalil’s story is just one of many stories of college students struggling to pay for school. According to an NBC report, there are 43 million student loan borrowers nationwide.

Student Debt Relief’s website said college debt now exceeds $1.5 trillion.

College Board also reports that from the late 1980s to 2018, the cost of an undergraduate degree has risen by 213 percent at public schools and 129 percent at private schools.

“Man, my heart is just lifted. I’m so happy,” Khalil said. Thank you, Pinky! Thank you so much! You literally changed my life because. I was literally about to give up and you helped me so much.”

Khalil hopes to one day work in TV and radio and become an actor as well.

Next week, Slutty Vegan said that it’s planning to help more students struggling to pay their tuition.

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