Billionaire Robert Smith pledges $40M to clear debt for Morehouse graduates

Billionaire Commencement Speaker Surprises Grads With Huge Student Loan Announcement

Smith gave a commencement speech on Sunday that won't ever be forgotten by Morehouse College's Class of 2019.

Smith, 56, told the graduates on Sunday he will establish a grant to pay-off their student loans amounting to $40 million.

"On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this county, we are going to put a little fuel in your bus", Smith said.

"My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans", Smith said.

Smith made the announcement Sunday morning in front of almost 400 graduating seniors and elicited the biggest cheers of the morning.

Smith had earlier this year announced a Dollars 1.5 million donation to the school, but Sunday's news came as a surprise even to staff at Morehouse, according to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Smith challenged the new graduates to "pay it forward".

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"A few of my friends have gone through difficulties, and knowing they will graduate and not have to struggle anymore is a really emotional moment", James said. In 2017, Vista Equity Partners had more than $30 billion in assets under management, and in 2018 Smith was named the richest African-American by Forbes.

Though college officials could not provide an estimate of the exact amount owed by the current graduating class, students graduate with an average debt of $30,000 to $40,000, said Terrance L. Dixon, vice president of enrolment management.

But despite his past generosity, none of past generosity can quite compete with the searingly personal touch of Sunday's gift to the Moorehouse Class of 2019. According to published figures, recent Morehouse classes have graduated with roughly $10 million in total debt. Yup, the entire graduating class.

The euphoria of graduating from college for most college students is soon replaced by the somber anxiousness of finding immediate employment to pay off towering student loans.

Ocasio-Cortez also said "people shouldn't be in a situation where they depend on a stranger's enormous act of charity", but called Smith's donation "an incredible act of community investment". "We will have additional staff on hand to ensure that all events proceed safely and with minimal disruption if any at all", the email read.

Dozens of top replies to Ocasio-Cortez's take on the Morehouse tuition offer joined her in calling for tuition forgiveness for the more than 44 million borrowers who, according to economists, owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. I was shocked. My heart dropped.

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