In May Black philanthropist Robert F. Smith made a monumental announcement during Morehouse College’s commencement ceremony where he pledged to eliminate the student loan debt of the 2019 graduating class. According to the Philadelphia Tribune, the HBCU is taking his efforts a step further by launching a new fund to help students tackle their loans.
The initiative—dubbed the Morehouse College Student Success Program—was created to help alumni significantly decrease their student loan debt so they can launch their careers, further their education and ultimately cultivate wealth. Through the program, organizers will also conduct research on the financial barriers derived from the cost of education and how to overcome them.
“The Morehouse College Student Success Program will provide students with a liberating gift that will wipe away or greatly reduce their student loans, allowing them to pursue their dreams and lead lives of leadership and service immediately after graduation,” said Morehouse President David A. Thomas in a statement, according to the news outlet. The college’s Board of Trustees hopes that the program will serve as a blueprint for other historically Black colleges and universities.
There is a huge need for programs like the one launched by the HBCU at colleges and universities across the nation. The student loan debt crisis has grown to $1.5 trillion. HBCU students are impacted the most by student loan debt. Research conducted by the United Negro College Fund revealed that 80 percent of HBCU students rely on federal loans to pay for their education. On average Morehouse graduates owe up to $40,000 in student loans.