Billionaire Robert F. Smith’s surprise pledge to pay off the student loans of Morehouse College’s class of 2019 will cost $34 million and will now include federal educational debt amassed by parents.
Students, parents and guardians received the details in an email Friday from the Atlanta school. Smith, the founder of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, first disclosed the gift in May during the graduation ceremony. Smith’s pledge made national headlines and focused further attention on the soaring cost of college and the debt burden faced by graduates. Student debt has emerged as a key issue among Democratic presidential candidates. Earlier this week, Weill Cornell Medicine in New York said billionaires Sanford Weill and Maurice “Hank” Greenberg will lead a $160 million effort to curb debt for qualifying medical students there.
“It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men,” David Thomas, the school’s president, said in a statement.