Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Morehouse College Graduates' Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire
As the 396 members of the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia assembled
for their commencement exercises, they were excited about graduating from college and entering the
next phase of their lives. Some of them plan to continue their education; others are entering the
work force. All of them eventually desire to find employment that will enable them to live
comfortably and to pay their bills - especially their student loan debt.
Robert F. Smith, the billionaire investor who founded Vista Equity Partners, stood to address the
graduates and their friends and family members. In his speech, he surprised the graduates with news
of a gift for each of them. Smith told the crowd that he and his family would pay off the entire
graduating class' student debt. "This is my class, 2019," he said, personally claiming the
graduating seniors as his own. "And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans."
It took a moment for that wonderful news to sink in. But when it did, the crowd erupted in jubilant
applause. "Everyone jumped up, cheered. People were crying. It was just the most amazing thing,"
said graduate Ernest Holmes.
It is not yet known how much student loan debt the class of 2019 has incurred, but recent classes
have graduated with roughly $10 million in total debt. For a class the size of this year's class,
that would equate to roughly $25,000 per graduate.
But now, thanks to the generosity of a philanthropist, these graduates won't have to carry that
John Silvanus Wilson Jr., a Morehouse alumnus who was the college's president from 2013 to 2017,
called the gift "an extraordinary investment" that was "simply an act of high grace."
"This was a liberation gift, meaning this frees these young men from having to make their career
decisions based on their debt," said current Morehouse President, David A. Thomas. "This allows them
to pursue what they are passionate about."
Robert F. Smith stated in his address that he hopes the graduates will be passionate about "paying
it forward," helping future generations. *
What a wonderful gift! It pictures an even greater gift that has been offered to each and every one
Because of our sins, each of us owes an incredible debt to God. Our debt is so great that none of
us has the ability to repay it.
But God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the debt of our sin.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of
His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
"He paid the debt He did not owe
I owed the debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand new song, 'Amazing Grace'
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay."
-- Ellis J. Crum
God will forgive the debt of sin and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in
Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men
(Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John
He will pay YOUR debt if only YOU will accept His offer on His terms.
-- David A. Sargent
* Information gleaned from "Morehouse College Graduates' Student Loans to Be Paid Off by
Billionaire" by By Audra D. S. Burch, David Gelles and Emily S. Rueb of The New York Times,
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