Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse College class of 2019
Billionaire technology investor Robert F. Smith pledged Sunday to eliminate the student debt for the entire graduating 2019 class at Morehouse College.
Smith, the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and Morehouse's commencement speaker on Sunday, announced that his family was setting up a grant to eliminate all student loans for the graduates.
"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. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans," Smith said to nearly 400 graduating students who cheered when they heard the news. "I know my class will make sure they pay this forward…and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community.”
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Smith had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school. The additional pledge to pay off the graduating class’ student loan debt is estimated to be $40 million, 11AliveOpens a New Window. reported.
The investor and philanthropist received an honorary doctorate from the college during the graduation ceremony. Morehouse College is an all-male historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you get educated. Where you go to school shouldn’t determine whether you get textbooks,” Smith said. “The opportunity you access should be determined by the fierceness of your intellect, the courage in your creativity and the grit that allows you to overcome expectations that weren’t set high enough.”