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This billionaire surprised 2019 graduates with the *best* gift

Student debt is no joke. The average student loan debt in 2017 was $37,172 according to—the same as the average cost of a car. But the Class of 2019 at one school is getting the chance to enter the workforce debt-free.

Robert F. Smith, a tech-investment billionaire, was the commencement speaker at Morehouse College’s graduation Sunday, where he surprised everyone with his announcement that he would pay off all of the graduating students’ debt—an estimated forty-million dollars.

Other billionaires have given commencement speeches before, such as J.K. Rowling (net worth of 1 billion) and Bill Gates (net worth of 100 billion), who both spoke at Harvard University, but no one before Smith had given such a gift, especially not to an entire graduating class.

It’s majorly amazing to see a billionaire giving back, and for the graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, it enables them to follow their dreams as they enter the workforce without having to worry about repaying their loans.

One of the students who benefit from Smith’s donation, illustrator Charles Releford, told CNN the gift means “different avenues are open now” in terms of his career as an artist.

Smith himself tweeted about his gift, writing that, “each of us will be measured by how much we contribute to the success of the people around us,” a humble way of describing his desire to give back.

Reactions throughout social media are overwhelmingly positive, with strangers thanking Smith for his kindness and speculating on the impact his donation will have on the students’ lives post-graduation. The Morehouse College Class of 2019 could be the first example of what future graduates can achieve if they, too, graduate debt-free. 

I can only hope the commencement speaker at my graduation will be as generous.

What do you think of Robert F. Smith's generous donation? Sound off in the comments!


by Bailey Bujnosek | 5/20/2019
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