Billionaire technology investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith said his family would pay off the Morehouse class of 2019 student debt during his commencement speech in front of nearly 400 students.
While the total debt from all the students have yet to be calculated a Morehouse representative says Smith is pledging approximately $40 million dollars.
Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.
In addition to being the commencement speaker, Smith also received an honorary degree from the university.
“When Dr. King said that the ‘arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,’ he wasn’t saying it bends on its own accord. It bends because we choose to put our shoulders into it together and push,” Smith said.
“Technology is creating a whole new set of on ramps to the 21st century economy, and together we well help assure that African Americans will acquire the tech skills and be the beneficiaries in sectors that are being automated.”
The nation’s total debt accrued by students currently stands somewhere around $1.5 trillion, according to Forbes, and borrowers in the class of 2017 on average owed more than $28,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
Nearly half of African American students defaulted on a federal student loan within 12 years of entering college, according to the Center for American Progress report. Black students owed more than 100% of what they originally borrowed within that time, the report said.
“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,”Smith said.