How will generous billionaire Robert Smith pay off Morehouse student loan debt for 2019 graduates?
Robert F. Smith’s magnanimous gift to pay off the student loan debt of hundreds of Morehouse graduates has left many in their feelings – some elated for being on the receiving end of Smith’s benevolence, while others feel resentment for missing out on the gift of a lifetime.
It will be a huge undertaking for Smith, a billionaire tech giant and philanthropist to pay off the debt of the 396 students he promised during the school’s 2019 commencement ceremony, The New York Times reports.
And many analysts and experts wonder just how will Smith get the job done, given that it’s a pretty complicated scenario. Some student loans are in the student’s parents’ name. Will those be paid off too? Some parents even took out home equity loans to help their child get through school. Does that count as valid student loan debt? How will he deal with getting bogus bills from students?
After the inspirational graduation announcement, Shaquille Lampley who was one of the graduates, returned to his dorm room and tried to assess how much student loan debt he had accumulated over the past four years – it totaled $200,000.
“I just kept looking at the number and thinking to myself, this would cripple me for life,” said Lampley to the NY Times. He earned a sociology degree with the help of his mom who took out loans. “I am so grateful and still in shock about this gift, and now I have so many questions about how this will be processed.”
According to the New York Times, student loan debt is a challenging economic issue that currently impacts 44.7 million Americans. And Black students, as an estimated 77.7 percent, take out federal student loans in comparison to only 57.5 percent of their white counterparts.
Morehouse president David A. Thomas told the NY Times that the college will work out details soon with Smith.
“We know that Mr. Smith is going to erase the debt of the 396 students who received diplomas,” he said. “What we have not determined yet is the form or mechanism and the details on how this will happen. We will be meeting in the coming days.”