Thursday, August 22, 2019
New York Times, Want to Pay Off a Student’s Debt? At Morehouse, Donors Now Can:
The surprise announcement elicited disbelief, then jubilation from the crowd of 396 graduates at Morehouse College’s commencement in May, and from onlookers like Xavier Antoine, a junior who was photographing the celebration.
“This is my class, 2019, and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” Robert F. Smith, the richest black man in America and this year’s commencement speaker, told the crowd at Morehouse, a historically black men’s college in Atlanta.
The extraordinary and unexpected pledge also led other Morehouse men like Mr. Antoine, who has taken out several student loans, to ask the inevitable question: What about the Class of 2020?
Morehouse sought to answer that last week by unveiling a new program in which the school will solicit donations that would go directly to paying off its students’ loans. The plan, which also includes studying how reducing debt affects graduates’ choices after college, follows efforts by politicians, state governments and individual universities over the last few years to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate tuition.
But the move takes on even more significance at the historically black college, where officials view it as one more tool to help its graduates reduce the vast wealth gap between black and white households, and students see it as in line with professors’ counseling to pursue their passions with an eye toward giving back to their communities.