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Robert Smith fulfills Morehouse pledge to pay off graduates' student loans
Billionaire tech investor Robert Smith fulfilled his promise this week to pay off the student loans of Morehouse College's graduating class.
Smith, who initially announced his plan in May, said in a press release that he had donated $34 million to the school to wipe the students' debts clean and set up a foundation to aid students struggling with loans in the future.
"The Morehouse Student Success Program is a scholarship, loan debt, research and educational initiative established by the Board of Trustees as a national investment strategy to curb student loan debt and help graduates to prosper faster. Under the new initiative, Morehouse will solicit and accept donations made specifically to reduce or eliminate the student loan debt of Morehouse Men and their parents or guardians, thus creating an opportunity for greater financial freedom for new alumni and their families," the press release read.
Morehouse's president David Thomas called the gift a "life-changing" donation for Morehouse's current and future graduates.
"This liberation gift from Robert Smith - the first of its kind to be announced at a graduation in higher education -will be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families," Thomas said in a statement.
"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," the president added.
Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from the school in May at a commencement ceremony, already pledged $1.5 million to the school in an unrelated gift and was initially estimated to be spending up to $40 million to forgive the debts. Nearly 400 graduating seniors will be affected by the gift this year.
"This is my class," Smith said at the school's commencement in May. "And I know my class will pay this forward."