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“PAY THIS FORWARD”

During a commencement address, a billionaire promised to pay the student debt held by an entire graduating class.

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“Between doubt and destiny is action.”

Robert Smith, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, posed his offer to pay the student loan debt for the graduating class of Morehouse College as a challenge. While he said his family will make a grant for the class of 2019 to eliminate their student loans, he encouraged the alumni to do the same as well for other future classes. Smith's estimated total gift to Morehouse Class of 2019? 40M.
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Morehouse College:

  • The Atlanta-based University: “the world’s only HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for men.”
  • Dates back to 1867; originally founded as a seminary.
  • Just under 2200 students enrolled.
  • Famous graduates include: Martin Luther King Jr. who entered the college at age 15.
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Robert Smith

  • Named richest black man in America; est. worth $5B (Forbes).
  • Currently leads a private equity firm that invests in technology.
  • He also donated $50M to his alma mater Cornell University in 2016.
  • Graduated from Cornell with an engineering degree before getting his Masters in Business from Columbia University.
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The cost of attending Morehouse College (room & board, books etc) is just under $50,000 a year (about average for a private university in America). Total student loan debt in America totals an estimated $1.5 T.

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