Billionaire Robert F. Smith to pay entire US class's student loans

Billionaire Robert F. Smith to pay entire US class's student loans

A billionaire technology investor left graduating students in Atlanta, Georgia, in disbelief after telling them he will pay off their student loans.

Robert F. Smith, one of America's richest tech investors, pledged to eliminate student debt for the entire 2019 Morehouse College graduating class.

The prominent black philanthropists, was giving an address on Sunday May 19, 2919, at Morehouse College, a historically all-male black college.

Mr. Smith said his family would be providing a grant to quash nearly 400 graduating seniors' student debt.

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"On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we're gonna put a little fuel in your bus," Mr Smith told the graduates on Sunday.

Nearly 400 students will benefit at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

“This is my class,” Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from the school during the ceremony, said,

He added that, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”

The announcement prompted the biggest cheers of the event.

Smith had already pledged a $1.5 million gift to the university.

His intention to pay off the graduating seniors' student debt will cost an estimated $40 million.

How did they react?

Aaron Mitchom, 22, wept at the news that he would not have to pay back $200,000 in loans he had taken out to fund his finance studies, AP news agency reports.

"I was shocked," he said. "My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off."

Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm that invests in numerous technology-driven businesses.

His net worth is about $5 billion, according to Forbes.

The announcement from Smith serves as the latest example of a billionaire helping college students financially.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in November 2018 that he would be donating $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University in an effort to support education for low-and middle-income families.

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Morehouse College, located in Atlanta, is an all-male historically black college with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 2,000 students.

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