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Billionaire's gift to wipe out Morehouse student loans highlights debt 'crisis,' advocates say

Billionaire's gift to wipe out Morehouse student loans highlights debt 'crisis,' advocates say


For Morehouse College graduate Keith Anderson, the surprise announcement by billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith to pay off his entire class' student-loan debts was nothing short of extraordinary.

While scholarships helped Anderson, a physics major at the all-male historically black college in Atlanta, afford most of his schooling, he still has close to $15,000 in loans. But Smith's pledge during Sunday's commencement ceremony means Anderson can attend graduate school with a clean slate.

"Before graduating, my classmates had been talking about how they will have to carry the debt for the rest of their lives," said Anderson, 21, of Richmond, Virginia. A fellow classmate even drew up a spreadsheet and calculated it would take him 25 years to pay back his $200,000 in student loans.

"I'm happy for my entire class," Anderson said Monday. "This is a weight off of everyone's back."

Smith's promise to eliminate up to $40 million in student loans for Morehouse's nearly 400 graduates is inspiring, student advocacy and consumer groups say, but the act of generosity also highlights the growing burden on student borrowers who owe close to $1.5 trillion in student loan debt nationwide.

That's double the amount from 10 years earlier, according to the Federal Reserve.


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