Billionaire Commencement Speaker Promises to Pay Off Grads’ Student Loans

Graduation can feel the farthest away it's ever been, but just like that, you'll be sitting with your friends reminiscing over a college experience that feels as though it took place eons in the past.

Does every all-nighter and tear-inducing essay feel worth it when you pick up your cap and walk across that stage? Not really, but what did you expect? You're picking up a very expensive piece of paper.

Graduating college is both great and terrible.

Unsplash | Vasily Koloda

On one hand, you're free to join the adult world.

On the other, you're free to join the adult world.

It's freeing, but also sooo terrifying to have to fend for yourself in a structureless capitalist void. What's a 401K? How do you make a dentist appointment? Why does my landlord need references?

Another downside to graduation are the dreaded student loans that will need to start being paid back.

But the recent graduating class of Morehouse College won't have to worry about those.


Their commencement speaker, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith, announced during his speech that he would be paying off all the student loan debt for the current graduating class.

"On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we're going to put a little fuel in your bus."

Unsplash | MD Duran

"Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward," he said, "I want my class to look at these (alumni) — these beautiful Morehouse brothers — and let's make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream."

The students' reaction was understandably wild.

Students told CNN that they "couldn't believe their ears" when Smith made the announcement.

"We're looking at each other like, 'Is he being serious?' That's a lot of money," said 21-year-old Robert James.

Another student called it the "the kindest, most generous thing he'd ever witnessed."

Unsplash | JodyHongFilms

22-year-old Jonathan Epps explains that he couldn't wait to tell the news to his parents, who no longer have to help him pay his $35,000 student debt.

"It'll sink in as the years go on. I know that for a fact," he said, "I still don't really have words. It makes a great day just that much better."

It's no small change.

School President David Thomas calculated that the amount of money it would take to pay the loans of all 396 students would be tens of millions of dollars.

Our loans next, please?

h/t: [CNN] (