Billionaire Robert F. Smith made headlines in May when he made a generous pledge to pay off student loans for Morehouse College graduates.
Now Smith has extended his pledge to pay off the debts of their parents as well.
The pledge to pay off student loans for Morehouse grads and their parents will cost Smith $34 million.
The graduates learned of Smith’s new pledge to pay off the educational debt of their parents in a letter sent out by the school.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” said Smith during his surprise announcement at Morehouse College in May.
“Now I’ve got the alumni over there. This is a challenge to you, alumni. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” said Smith, referring to his wife, Hope.
22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchom figured he could pay off $200,000 in student loans in 25 years if he allotted half his salary to the debt.
After hearing Smith’s announcement at the commencement in May, Mitchom cried.
“I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off,” he said in an interview after the commencement.
Tina Mitchom, Aaron’s mom, said eight family members, including Mitchom’s 76-year-old grandmother, co-signed on the loans to help him graduate.
“It takes a village,” she said. “It now means he can start paying it forward and start closing this gap a lot sooner, giving back to the college and thinking about a succession plan’ for his younger siblings.”