The Billionaire Who Promised to Pay Off Student Loans for an Entire Graduating Class Just Pledged to Pay Off Their Parents’ Educational Loans, Too

A lesson is giving — no matter how much (or little) you have in your bank account.

Courtesy of Monthira/Shutterstock
Courtesy of Monthira/Shutterstock

In May, the private-equity billionaire Robert F. Smith announced he’d be setting up a grant to wipe out the entire Morehouse College class of 2019’s student-loan debt.

Now that offer has been expanded to also cover those students’ parents’ education debt, according to a September 20 press release.

The gift cost Smith $34 million, the historically black college said in the press release. According to the press release, Smith will make the donation to Morehouse’s new Student Success Program, which will in turn completely pay off all federal student loans borrowed by the 400 Morehouse students who graduated in May, nearly all of whom are black men, as well as loans owed by their parents and legal guardians.

“This liberation gift from Robert Smith — the first of its kind to be announced at a graduation in higher education —will be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families,” Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said in a statement. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” 

Smith first announced the gift while speaking at the class of 2019’s commencement in May. “My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith told the graduates at the ceremony, Business Insider previously reported. “You great Morehouse men are bound only by the limits of your own conviction and creativity.”

Smith is the chairman and CEO of the Austin, Texas-based private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners. He has a net worth of $6.08 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“With the Student Success Program in place, there is a model for all colleges and universities, starting with Morehouse and HBCUs, to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities,” Smith said in a statement to Business Insider.

Originally published on Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

A look at the life of Robert F. Smith, the billionaire investor paying off student loans who owns homes in Malibu and NYC, and married a former Playboy model in a lavish Italian ceremony

The richest man in Hong Kong just pledged to cover 5 years of tuition for an entire college class, and it’s going to cost him $14.4 million a year to do it

A billionaire agreed to pay off my student loans in full. Here’s what it was like — and how I plan to pay it forward.

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