*Billionaire Robert F. Smith announced to the May graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta that he planned to pay off the entirety of their student debt. Now Smith is expanding the gift to include their parents.
On Friday, Morehouse announced that Smith will cover the educational loans taken out by the parents of the 2019 graduating class — totaling $34 million.
“It says a lot about how Robert came to understand the issues of affordability and student debt,” David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, said of Smith’s inclusion of parental loans. “Our parents take out loans, often to the tune of $50,000 or more. And potential default on those loans affects the ability to finance other family needs. We know there is a wealth gap for African American families, so this [gift] is very significant.”
Thomas said Smith’s gift will be “life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families.”
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“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,” Thomas said in the release.
“Morehouse’s program to provide debt relief to new graduates is a fund-raising opportunity that should be studied and duplicated nationally,” said Michael L. Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund. ”The impact of such a gift, particularly for minority or economically disadvantaged families, could accelerate the growth of a more diverse and robust middle class.”
The six types of loans eligible for repayment through Smith’s gift are federal subsidized loans, federal unsubsidized loans, Georgia Student Access Loans, Perkins Loans, Parent Plus Loans and private student loans processed through Morehouse College.
According to Morehouse, “alumni who graduated in May or who finished their degree requirements during summer 2019 are eligible to receive gifts along with their parents and guardian,” the release states.
Learn more at morehouse.edu.