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Morehouse commencement speaker to pay off Class of 2019’s student loans

Tatyana Jenene

 // May 19, 2019

via Morehouse College's Twitter

The men of Morehouse College's class of 2019 are celebrating more than their graduation today thanks to billionaire Robert F. Smith.

Smith was the commencement speaker at the illustrious HBCU's graduation ceremony Sunday morning and gave a surprise of a lifetime when he announced he would pay the student debt of the nearly 400 graduating seniors. The amount of debt for the Morehouse class of 2019 is estimated to be around $40 million.

Smith, who gifted the college with $1.5 million earlier in the day, received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse before his announcement. "This is my class," he said according to AJC, "and I know my class will pay this forward." The decision evoked cheers from both parents and students alike.


Angela Bassett also received an honorary degree from Morehouse.


Smith is the founder, Chairman and CEO of a private equity firm named Vista Equity Partners. In 2017, the firm earned more than $30 billion in assets. Smith surpassed Oprah as the wealthiest African America in 2018, according to Forbes Magazine.

One of the graduates, Charles Releford III, has about $70,000 in student loan debt, according to his mother, Tonga Releford. "I feel like it's Mother's Day all over again," she told AJC.

This power move by Smith will go down as one of the greatest flexes in history.

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