Billionaire Pledges to Pay Off Student Debt of Morehouse College’s Class of 2019

A billionaire tech investor pledged to eliminate student debt for the entire 2019 Morehouse College graduating class.

Robert F. Smith announced during a commencement address Sunday his family would be providing grants to quash about 400 graduating seniors’ student debt, according to reports.

“This is my class,” Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from the school during the ceremony, said, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “And I know my class will pay this forward.”

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, 11Alive 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.”

Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $5 billion, founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies. The 56-year-old billionaire is the first African American to sign the Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage wealthy individuals to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy, Forbes reported.

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