Morehouse College Commencement Speaker Pledges to Pay Off Student Loans for Class of 2019

Smith is the wealthiest African-American, affording him the opportunity to uplift the graduates of the prestigious HBCU.

Portrait of billionaire philanthropist Robert Smith

Image via Getty/Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Portrait of billionaire philanthropist Robert Smith

The joy of college commencements tend to fade away once the reality of student loan debt hits. Morehouse College's Class of 2019 might not have to worry about that, though. Billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith, the ceremony's commencement speaker, promised to pay off the outgoing class' outstanding debt when he took the podium on Sunday.

"My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans!" -Robert F. Smith told the graduating Class of 2019 @RFS_Vista #MorehouseGrad2019

— Morehouse College (@Morehouse) May 19, 2019

"This is my class and I know my class will pay this forward," Smith—who was awarded an honorary doctorate from the institution—said after announcing his gift.

According to the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionSmith is expected to pay an estimated $40 million to free the nearly 400 graduating seniors from the grips of debt. In addition to the pledge, Smith donated an additional $1.5 million to the school itself. 

The 56-year-old businessman is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. According to Forbes, Smith's investments in different technology software has generated him a net worth close to $5 billion, making him the wealthiest black person in America.

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