JUST IN: Morehouse announces plans for how student loan debts will be paid off

Billionaire tech investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith stunned Morehouse College, students and the higher education world during his commencement speech in May when he announced his plans to wipe out...

Billionaire tech investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith stunned Morehouse College, students and the higher education world during his commencement speech in May when he announced his plans to wipe out the student loan debt for all 396 graduating students.

On Friday, the college released details about how Smith’s plan will work.

Morehouse will pay off debt that has been approved by the college and tracked by the U.S. Department of Education, Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The graduates were sent notifications last week about the payment plan, Thomas said. 

The students will not have to pay taxes on the loan repayments, he said.

The gift is $34 million. Smith’s commitment was unprecedented, many higher education experts said. His gift has inspired others to give more to the college, Thomas said, and Morehouse is accepting money from other donors that could also help repay loan debts. 

Morehouse has since created a Student Success Program to track how the gifts have helped students and to study the impact of student loan debt in higher education.

Thomas scheduled an 11:45 a.m. news conference Friday to discuss the details. 

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