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Billionaire Surprises Faculty and Students; Pledges To Pay off Student Loans For Entire Graduating Class


Billionaire Surprises Faculty and Students; Pledges To Pay off Student Loans For Entire Graduating Class

A tech investor pulled a surprise gift that left students in shock and bewildered happiness. Billionaire Robert F Smith offered to pay off student loans to the entire graduating class of 400 students at Morehouse College in Atlanta totaling to $40 million.

The founder and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners said: ‘On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this county, 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.’

The announcement came as a surprise to both students and faculty after which they broke into cheers and applause.

Although college officials have not given an estimate of the amount owed by the current graduating class, vice president of the enrolment management said that students graduate with an average debt of $30,000 to $40,000.

Smith, who received an honorary doctorate during the ceremony had already announced a $1.5 million grant to the school.

The billionaire further said that he expected the recipients to ‘pay it forward’ and added that he hoped that ‘every class has the same opportunity going forward.’

‘Because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure that we have all the opportunities of the American dream. And we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds,’ he said.

Aaron Mitchom, 22, a finance major graduating from Morehouse had already drawn a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans weeks before the ceremony. According to his calculations, 25 years to be exact, at half his monthly salary.

In an instant, that number vanished and mItchom couldn’t resist the tearing while sitting in the middle of the wildly excited crowd of fellow graduates.

After the announcement, he said: ‘I can delete that spreadsheet. I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. At the moment it was like a burden had been taken off.’

His mother, Tina Mitchom was also shocked by the philanthropic gesture; so did the eight family members including Mitchom’s grandmother who took turns co-signing on the loans that got him to the final year in college.

She said: ‘It takes a village. It now means he can start paying it forward and start closing this gap a lot sooner, giving back to the college and thinking about a succession plan’ for his younger siblings. Morehouse College president David A. Thomas said the gift would have a profound effect on the students’ futures.

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