SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Traditionally, the job of a college commencement speaker is to inspire and motivate the graduating class.
Robert E. Smith took his job as the speaker at the Morehouse College graduation up a few levels a few weeks ago. The billionaire investor sent the class of 2019, 396 graduates strong, out into the real world with hope, and a clean slate from student loan debt. Smith said this class was his and he and his family have set up a $40 million fund to pay off each of graduates student loans.
You heard right, that’s $40 million dollars split among just 396 students. Now, I was a broadcast major so math isn’t my strong suit, but even I can figure out that on average, each of those students have close to $100,000 debt.
Student loan debt is an escalating crisis in our country. According to the personal finance website Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million people in our country carrying a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. That’s trillion with a T. Student loan is now the second highest consumer debt in our country, only lagging behind mortgage debt.
Virtually since our founding, Americans have climbed a ladder of success whose first rung was education. That has become even more critical if we are to equip our students with the skills necessary to compete in a world economy that’s exploding with technology. To fix what’s wrong with America, we must fix our educational system. We’ve allowed colleges to price themselves out of the reach of most Americans, unless they’re willing to go tens of thousands in debt and thus, we deny them their birthright.
We can’t afford to lets this epidemic to go any further, and we can’t, just can’t hope our kids’ graduation speaker does for them what Robert Smith did for the Morehouse class of 2019.