Robert F. Smith is the richest African-American man in the United States and is valued at over $4 billion. This weekend, the known philanthropist “paid it forward” by promising to relieve the student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class.
Smith gave the 2019 commencement speech at Morehouse, a historically black college located in Georgia. The promise was made to the nearly 400 students who were graduating, and who had a total of around $40 million in student loans.
“This is my class – 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” Smith said to widespread applause from the crowd and subsequent chants of “MVP.”
Student loan debt has become a growing problem in the United States, so much so that it is gaining the attention of American lawmakers. Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts and a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential race, has proposed to eliminate all student loan debt and to make all public colleges in the U.S. free.
Long before I was a senator, I fought to keep student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy – but Congress chipped away at this critical protection. I’m glad to work with @SenatorDurbin on the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act to restore this protection. https://t.co/L8Zh5S6tLn
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 9, 2019
According to estimates by the National Center for Education Statistics, there is over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt among the 44 million Americans who have student loan balances.
African-American students are particularly affected by student loans.
U.S. government statistics show that around 86% of African-American students use student loans to attend a four-year public college, compared to around 60% of white students who borrow to attend a public college.
Find more statistics at Statista