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VIDEO: Black Billionaire Robert Smith Pays Off Student Loan Debt of 400 Morehouse Students

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Morehouse’s graduating class is 400 strong. Smith’s graduation gift is one that will allow graduates of one of the most storied all-male historically Black college to start their careers with no student loan debt.

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At their graduation on May 19, investor and chemical engineer Robert Smith announced he would pay off the student loan debt of Morehouse’s 2019 graduating class. (Photo: Video Screen capture / washingtonpost.com)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

During what will likely be seen as one of the most memorable graduation presents for parents and their children — a quiet African American billionaire delivered a welcomed surprise.

At their graduation on May 19, investor and chemical engineer Robert Smith announced he would pay off the student loan debt of Morehouse’s 2019 graduating class.

Morehouse’s graduating class is 400 strong. Smith’s graduation gift is one that will allow graduates of one of the most storied all-male historically Black college to start their careers with no student loan debt.

Given today’s statistics regarding student loan debt, this is no small gift. Morehouse officials estimate Smith estimates that his gift is worth over $40 million.

“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 his speech to the class of 2019, their families and Morehouse faculty.

“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith added.

Smith, who is an investor and tech billionaire, is the founder and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. In 2018 he was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 163rd wealthiest person in the U.S.

Smith’s net worth is estimated to be over $4.4 billion.

This year, student loan debt in America has topped $1.5 trillion. There are currently more than 44 million student loan borrowers in the U.S. The average tuition at a private college or university is currently $34,000.

Nine of ten private student loans now have an adult co-signer, usually the student’s parent.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Victor Payne

    May 21, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    I read the featured story on Dr.Robert Smith’s $40M gift to Moore House Class of 2019 with interest; a gift to underwrite Graduating Class student Loan debt. This is commendable and a donation to charity In deed,it was a gift from the heart to earn a tax deductible credit an amount otherwise going to IRS coffers.
    My concern is the the chosen privileged few instead of investing same to uplift THE RACE in Atlanta ,Ga ;a majority number facing economic hardship and homelessness. The $40M could build Affordable Housing to house thousands and RESTORE SOUL OF BLACK FOLKS for the love of African American community. Another consideration is to invest $20M in shares of a profitable portfolio for the graduating class so the dividends could provide financial security to each student before earning a pay check in the work market place. The most creative aspect of the gift is to CHALLENGE each student to invest his or her share to STAR A BUSINESS that will be sustainable plus create jobs for African American Youths. This path would have the “pop corn” or “Ripple Effect” towards African American economic empowerment. Yes, the $40M gift is a feel good and right thing to do; it is an incentive to the students to give back to Alma Mater and community once they have become “successful” in pursuit of the the American Dream. Good luck to the Class of 2019; Discover your historic mission and consciously fulfill it!!

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