Billionaire Promises To Pay Off Entire Graduating Class' Student Loans
A billionaire tech investor has pledged to pay off the student debt for an entire graduating class of a U.S. university, leaving students stunned.
Robert F. Smith made the announcement on Sunday in front of nearly 400 graduates at Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black college in Atlanta.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith said during his commencement speech.
“This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
The news brought the crowd of students to their feet, breaking out in a chant of "MVP!".
Smith said he hopes students will "pay it forward".
"Because we are enough to take care of our community," he said.
"We are enough to ensure that we have all the opportunities of the American dream. And we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds."
While the total debt the students have is still being calculated, a Morehouse College representative told CBS News that the total amount Smith is pledging to donate is US$40 million.
He previously announced a US$1.5 million donation to the school.
Smith -- who was given an honorary doctorate at Sunday's ceremony -- is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.
Unsurprisingly, Morehouse students were left in shock and awe.
“I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," graduate Aaron Mitchom, who said he owed about US$200,000 in student debt, told the Associated Press.
"I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off."