ST. LOUIS – When billionaire investor and philanthropist Dr. Robert Smith announced that he was paying off the all the student debt of the graduating Morehouse College students on Sunday, he changed the lives of nearly 400 young men – one of whom is a St. Louisan.
Myles Washington graduated from Parkway North High School in 2015. He said his life changed when his entire college debt was wiped away.
Dr. Smith was delivering his commencement speech at the graduation when he announced, “My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans.”
“I remember looking to my right and left, like, ‘Did you hear the same thing I heard?’” Washington said.
How much debt did Dr. Smith erase from Washington’s account?
“I can’t say an exact number but like $25,000-$30,000,” he said.
Despite being on an academic scholarship, the totals from room, board, books, and fees add up. Washington said his parents have been sacrificing helping him pay off debt but they won’t have to anymore.
Washington, who graduated with a degree in psychology and plans to get his master’s or MBA, said this gift opens up some doors for him.
“It motivates me to achieve a high level so I can prevent that from happening to the next generation,” he said.
Dr. Smith’s gift will also help him with his credit score.
“It gives me the freedom to choose what I want to do instead of stuff I have to do and paying off certain bills,” he said.
While graduating from the esteemed Morehouse College was enough, the gift from Dr. Robert Smith was the icing on the cake.
The total debt is still being calculated but it’s estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.