Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Billionaire Promises To Pay Off Entire Graduating Class' Student Loans

Members of the Morehouse College 2002 graduating class Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 20 May, 2019, 16:16

Graduates react after hearing billionaire technology investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith say he will provide grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Morehouse president David A. Thomas praised the generous gift, which would mean at least 396 students not hobbled by debt that could take years, even decades to pay back.

Smith was the commencement speaker at the University of Colorado Denver's graduation in 2017, the university where his father earned his doctorate 45 years prior. According to published figures, recent Morehouse classes have graduated with roughly $10 million in total debt.

That was recently made clearer by Singapore's richest man, Philip Ng Chee Tat, who equally took the world by surprise when he said living without Jesus and focusing on material things is a sad way to live. "Between our community and the American Dream is leadership", Smith said to the graduates.

"This is my class, 2019", he said, personally claiming the graduating seniors as his own.

Billionaire Smith made the unprecedented announcement on Sunday, May 19, when he visited the all-male college in Atlanta, United States (US), to speak to the graduating class, according to Aljazeera and other global news outlets privy to the multi-million pledge.

The Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar has said she is not in favour of debt- or tuition-free college, telling CNN: "If I were a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would".

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"Three-hundred-and-ninety-six individuals will have their debt wiped out thanks to Robert F. Smith", Thomas said.

Smith talked briefly about his family, saying one of his daughters is graduating from New York University this week, another is finishing high school and will attend Barnard College in the fall, and his niece is graduating from his alma mater Cornell University next week. "I know that for a fact", he said.

Student loan debt in the United States of America reached its highest level in history in 2019, totalling about $1.5 trillion among 44 million borrowers in the US.

Morehouse is a historically black college, one of more than 100 schools founded to serve African-American students, mostly in the US South, before the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed school segregation.

Thank You @RFS_Vista for this outstanding gift to the 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College!

"Where you live shouldn't determine whether you get educated".

Smith, a dad of three, is the founder, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, which he created in 2000.

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