In May 2019, Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019 not only received the gift of their degrees, but also a unique opportunity to enter society debt-free. During his commencement speech, billionaire and owner of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith announced his pledge to cover each student’s loans, and now their parents will be able to get in on the life-changing gesture.
According to Bloomberg, Smith will pay off the federal loans taken by the students’ parents, adding to a $34 million tab. Private student loans gifted by the college, and federal and state loans will be covered under Smith’s plan.
Morehouse's president, David Thomas, said this action will hopefully inspire the recipients to follow in Smith's footsteps. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” The HBCU aims for the plan of action to be completed by 2020.
For Smith, with a reported net worth of $6 billion, his vision through this program aims to inspire other colleges and universities to take a charge against this country's student debt crisis and “to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities.”
According to Forbes, U.S. federal student loan debt has totaled over $1.5 trillion.
Wow! Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse graduates by announcing his family will eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019 with a grant. #PayItForward #HBCU pic.twitter.com/lbZmttSsB6
— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) June 10, 2019