Morehouse College Grads Share Plans to Pay It Forward After Billionaire's Pledge to Pay Loan Debt
"We have all been blessed."
Aaron Mitchom recalled to the Atlanta Journal Constitution how tears rolled down his cheeks when billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the student loans of every member of Morehouse College's 2019 class during his commencement speech on Sunday morning.
"Thank you, Jesus. I'm debt-free," Mitchom, 22, said aloud.
The finance major from Gwinnett County said his student loans totaled $200,000. His parents, grandmother, aunt, sister, and brother-in-law all co-signed loans for him. "They all bet on me," he said. "That's why it's such a big blessing."
Without Smith's generous contribution, Mitchom's monthly loan payments would have come out to $1,000 a month—and that's if all went according to plan. Without that burden, he told AJC that he plans to pay it forward by mentoring students and giving money back to Morehouse. "There's no excuse why we can't do that," he said.
Even with half his tuition paid by scholarship, Texas-native Ross Jordan was entering the next chapter of his life with $50,000 in undergraduate loans.
"Some of us had a lot of loans, and that generous act was overwhelming in a sense. It helps more people than just seniors—family members, friends, co-signers for the loans. We have all been blessed," the kinesiology major bound for a masters program at Columbia University in New York told AJC.
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After earning his master's degree in physical education, Jordan said he hopes to pass his good fortune on in a number of ways, but specifically by making kinesthetic learning more acceptable in a classroom setting for at-risk students.
"I want to pass that on to someone not just financially but by being supportive of youth and younger students," he told AJC. "I am grateful that I was part of this class, and I am feeling blessed that someone would consider doing this for me and 395 other students."