Billionaire Robert F. Smith has earned one of Morehouse’s biggest cheers after the commencement speaker announced he’d pay off the student loans for the entire graduating Class of 2019.
“This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”
Dang! There are a lot of happy graduates at Morehouse College today.
Commencement Speaker Robert F. Smith is establishing a grant to pay off the Class of 2019's student loans. #SundayThoughts #sundaymorning pic.twitter.com/kupvjyhT9Y
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) May 19, 2019
The 56-year-old philanthropist and technology investor made the surprise revelation Sunday morning (May 19) at the Historically all-male Black college ceremony.
The 400 student-graduating class could hardly contain their excitement. Tonga Releford, whose son Charles Releford III, graduated today with an estimated $70,000 in student loan debt. The news of a financial clean slate was overwhelming.
“I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she said.
The debt for all 400 students hovers around $40 million, which is a fraction of Smith’s reported $5 billion.
When news broke of Smith’s generous donation, many online expressing happiness, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Every Morehouse Class of 2019 student is getting their student debt load paid off by their commencement speaker.
This could be the start of what’s known in Econ as a ‘natural experiment.’ Follow these students & compare their life choices w their peers over the next 10-15 years. https://t.co/UM1qTJOxHf
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2019
This is real philanthropy.
Not giving money to a school to get your name on the wall while Administrators get raised.
Helping out real students in real need.https://t.co/HD7eF53qzu
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 19, 2019
Just so everyone’s clear: Robert’s gift is estimated at $40 million. It is the largest ever gift to @Morehouse and the single largest gift ever provided to eliminate student debt in the United States. With student debt disproportionately strangling Black people, this is major. https://t.co/qTUCFJKAQy
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) May 19, 2019
And because the Internet is the Internet, the jokes had to fly.
Next year’s Morehouse commencement speaker: pic.twitter.com/gYApx8OXGm
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) May 19, 2019
Big ups to Mr. Smith and congratulations to Morehouse’s Class of 2019.