Multiple news outlets are reporting that billionaire Robert F. Smith told the graduating class of Morehouse College that he would pay off their student loans. It was a complete surprise to the students as well as Morehouse’s administration.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” he told the newly minted graduates in Atlanta before saying his family was creating a grant to eliminate their student loans. The announcement was met with a standing ovation and chants of “MVP!” Continued Smith, “Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward. I want my class to look at these (alumni) – these beautiful Morehouse brothers – and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”
The total amount covered for the 396 students is being estimated at about $40 million, said Morehouse President David A. Thomas. He called Smith’s gesture “a liberation gift,” adding, “When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained. (Smith’s gift) gives them the liberty to follow their dreams, their passions.”