Skip to Content

A Billionaire Just Pledged to Pay Off The Student Loans For This Entire Graduating Class

Angela Bassett Receives And Honorary Degree During The Morehouse College 135th CommencementAngela Bassett Receives And Honorary Degree During The Morehouse College 135th Commencement
Robert F. Smith during the Morehouse College Commencement on May 19, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Smith pledged to pay off the student loans of every student in the class of 2019. Marcus Ingram Getty Images

Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith announced in a commencement address at Morehouse College on Sunday that he would pay off the student loans of every member of the class of 2019, according to multiple reports.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith said during a speech to the Atlanta college’s graduating class.

“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith added, according to a Twitter post by Morehouse College.

“This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” he was quoted as saying.

An official at the historically-black, all-male college told a local news station that the gift was worth about $40 million. There are almost 400 graduating seniors in the class.

Smith, who has a net worth of $4.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to Morehouse.

Students cheered loudly at the news.

“If I could do a backflip I would. I am deeply ecstatic,” Elijah Dormeus, a business administration major who’s graduating with $90,000 in student loans, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Smith is the founder and chief executive officer of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in Austin, Texas, with $56 billion under management. Its holdings include workflow manager Autotask and ticket marketplace Vivid Seats. Smith, 56, graduated from Cornell University and Columbia Business School.

More opinion in Fortune:

—Why you should pay less attention to all those IPOs

—What it means when A.I. can read your thoughts

—The U.S. needs responsible capitalism, not socialism

—Making the case for companies to disclose their workforce policies
—Disney’s CEO deserves his $66 million pay package. Here’s why.