US Billionaire Pledges $40 Million to Pay Student Loans of Entire Class
A billionaire investor and philanthropist took by surprise a class of nearly 400 graduating seniors as he announced to pay off their student debts.
Robert F. Smith made the announcement Sunday morning in front of entire 2019 class at Morehouse College, “eliciting the biggest cheers of the morning,” CBS News reported.
"My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans," Smith said, according to a tweet from the school.
Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm.
A Morehouse College representative quoted by CBS News said that the total amount the billionaire had pledged to donate was $40 million.
During his commencement speech, Smith cited Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke of a 21st-century tech-based economy being a "Fourth Industrial Revolution."
"When Dr. King said that the 'arc of the moral universe bends toward justice," he wasn't saying it bends on its own accord. It bends because we choose to put our shoulders into it together and push," Smith said. "Technology is creating a whole new set of on-ramps to the 21st-century economy, and together we will help assure that African Americans will acquire the tech skills and be the beneficiaries in sectors that are being automated."
Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the ceremony. He had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.