"My family will create a grant to eliminate your student loans," he told new graduates in Atlanta.
The announcement – in which Smith urged graduates to follow his lead by pushing him forward – was greeted with an ovation and "MVP!" Vocals.
The sum of the 396 students totals about $ 40 million, said Morehouse President David A. Thomas. He described Smith's gesture as a "liberation gift".
"When you have to pay off your debts, choices about what you can do around the world are limited," he said. "(Smith's gift) gives them the freedom to follow their dreams, their passions."
Students say that they are overwhelmed with gratitude
The students could not believe their ears when Smith made this announcement, confided three graduates of the college reserved for men.
"It's going to flow over the years, I know that," he said. "I still do not really have words … it makes a nice day a lot better."
Epps said to have a student loan debt of about $ 35,000 that his parents in Pleasanton, Calif., Had pledged to help him pay. He was eager to tell them the news, he said.
In addition to his $ 90,000 debt, the 22-year-old New Yorker said his mother had taken out a loan to help him continue his education.
"All his services, all his gifts have not been in vain," said Dormeus to the question of what Smith's gift meant to his family.
Smith has made many other charitable donations
Their benefactor also received an honorary degree Sunday, with actress Angela Bassett and psychologist Edmund Gordon.
The entrepreneur, founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners, accounts for about $ 5 billion, according to Forbes.
Aged 56, he was a chemical engineer at Goodyear and Kraft before attending a business school. He worked for Goldman Sachs, specialized in technology investments, before creating Vista Equity in 2000.
Vista Equity invests only in software, data and technology companies and has $ 46 billion in capital commitments, the company's website says.
Smith has a fairly generous tendency. In 2016, Cornell University, one of its alma maters, renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the honor of the Austin, Texas, investor. after being pledged to pay $ 50 million to the school. He has also donated millions of dollars to cancer research and the arts.
Its Fund II Foundation awards grants under five pillars: preserving the African-American experience, protecting human rights, preserving the environment, providing music education and supporting "essential American values such as that the spirit of enterprise, "says the organization.
In 2017, Smith signed the Giving Pledge, an effort led by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to convince wealthy Americans to donate half of their fortune.
In signing this pledge, Smith said he would focus on causes that support equality for black Americans and the environment. His wife, model Hope Dworaczyk Smith, will focus on helping children, he wrote.
"I will never forget that parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans, whose name I will never know, have paved the way," Smith said. "Their struggles, their courage and their progress have allowed me to struggle and succeed, my story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent upon us all to advance this legacy."