Sky News:– Graduating college students in Atlanta were left stunned when a billionaire technology investor told them he would wipe out their $40m (£31.4m) debts.
The students at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black institution, were already in a celebratory mood as they prepared to receive their degrees at the end-of-year ceremony, but were sent into sheer pandemonium when commencement speaker Robert F Smith made his surprise announcement.
The investor and philanthropist, who founded his own private equity firm, said: “On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
His generous donation is the single largest gift ever received by the college, where students graduate with an average debt of between $30,000 (£23,563) and $40,000 (£31,417).
Mr Smith, who is also the chief executive of his Vista Equity Partners company, had already announced a $1.5m (£1.2m) gift to the school when he made his announcement, which came as he received an honorary doctorate.
He told the crowd that he expected the recipients to “pay it forward” and added that he hoped “every class has the same opportunity going forward”.