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Billionaire and philanthropist Robert F. Smith promised to settle the student loans of an entire graduating class.
Smith is the CEO of an investment company and has a net worth of roughly $5 billion. He was the speaker of the 2019 graduation ceremony of Morehouse College, Atlanta, in the United States. During his speech at the all-male college in May, he told 396 graduating students that he will wipe out their student loans through a donation from him and his family. The exact amount of the loans is yet to be determined but is estimated to be around $40 million.
Government data revealed that the average debt of Morehouse undergraduates who have loans amounts to $26,000. Smith wanted the students to be relieved of this burden. Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said that through Smith’s donation, the students will be able to pursue their aspirations in life without worrying about debt. Smith, however, had one request. He asked the students to extend the generosity to other people.
The Morehouse students could not believe their ears after hearing Smith’s donation announcement. One elated student, who has $200,000 worth of student loans, vowed to give back by mentoring students and donating to his college in the future.
According to Morehouse, Smith’s gesture was the most generous gift the college has ever received. The billionaire outdid his previous donation to the college in January, when he gave $1.5 million to fund scholarships and the development of an outdoor study area on campus.
In the same graduation speech, he encouraged other people to do the same thing he did and invest in the future of graduating students.