Billionaire Robert Smith Keeps His Promise To Pay Off $34M Student Loan Debt For Class Of 2019 At Morehouse

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Vista Equity Partners
Billionaire Robert F. Smith announces he’s paying off student loans for the class of 2019 at the Morehouse graduation ceremony. Photo: Morehouse College YouTube

Billionaire Robert F. Smith is a man of his word. In May, the philanthropist and tech investor made a promise to pay off the student loan debt of Morehouse College’s 2019 Graduating Class. He has delivered by donating $34 million to the top Historically Black College and University (HBCU) for Black men, reported CNN.

Smith has also taken his generosity to the next level by extending that same offer to students’ parents and guardians, TIME reported. The money will be distributed through Morehouse’s Student Success Program, which the school created to help other graduates manage student loan debt.

According to a press release, most Morehouse students graduate with between $35,000 and $40,000 in student loan debt. Smith mitigated that burden for over 400 Morehouse Men with his generous gift.

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The founder of Vista Equity Partners, Smith was Morehouse’s 2019 commencement speaker and also received an honorary doctorate degree. This summer he was on track to raising the largest amount of money ever by an independent private equity firm, with $14 billion of the $16 billion goal pledged.

When Smith made the announcement, he encouraged the graduates to pay it forward.

“Men of Morehouse, you are surrounded by a community of people who have helped you arrive at this sacred place on this sacred day. On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus. … This is my class – 2019 … and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans … I know my class will pay this forward,” Smith said.

He was also honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in August. According to Bloomberg, Smith’s net-worth is over $6 billion.