Multi-Billionaire Robert F. Smith Is Not Only Paying Off Student Loans But Parent Plus Loans Too

Smith, who is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, is collectively donating $34 million to the new Morehouse College Student Success Program to pay off the loans that students and parents of the class of 2019 accumulated to fund a Morehouse education.
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. 

The history-making grant from Mr. Smith, who announced his intention to make this grant when he received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse in May, will ease the financial strain on the class of 2019, the billionaire’s “classmates.” 
The $34 million contribution to the Morehouse Student Success Program will benefit the new alumni by allowing them to pursue advanced degrees, start careers, and build wealth without being dragged with undergraduate loan debt related to Morehouse.
More than 400 students, parents, and guardians of the Class of 2019 will receive Morehouse’s inaugural gift under the Student Success Program.
America’s student loan debt—now more than $1.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Education (more than the nation’s $1.3 trillion in auto loan debt)—increases the wealth gap that exists between black families facing generational poverty and other groups. 
Black households nationally have the lowest median net worth, lagging behind Asian, white, and Latin Americans respectively, according to the U.S. Census. Economic status can impact loan repayments.

At Morehouse, the student loan debt threshold at graduation is between $35,000 and $40,000, which is higher than the average for HBCUs. According to UNCF research, HBCU graduates borrow nearly twice as much—$26,266 on average—than non-HBCU students. 
And one in four HBCU students borrows $40,000 or more to attend college.
“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 and CEO 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.”