About 400 seniors at Morehouse College got an unexpected graduation gift, the erasure of their student-loan debt.
Robert F Smith, an African-American businessman with a fortune estimated at $4.4 billion, stunned a group of graduating class by announcing that he was paying off the entirety of their student debt, an estimated $40 million.
That’s on top of a previously announced $1.5 million donation from Smith, who was given an honorary doctorate on Sunday.
“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans!” announced Smith,to scenes of jubilation at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
The announcement was initially met with stunned looks-before the graduates broke into cheers and tears at the largest gift ever given to the historically black college.
Aaron Mitchom, a 22-year old finance major said that he had drawn up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back $200,000 in student loans . It came to 25 years at half his monthly salary, he said. In an instant, that number vanished.