In September 2019, Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert F. Smith followed through on his pledge, paying $34 million to settle the loan debt for the nearly 400 students who graduated that spring from Morehouse College. Morehouse President David A. Thomas praised it as a “liberation gift” for those graduates as they start their careers without debt.
But what about other students?
While generous, Smith’s largesse was just a band-aid on the country’s $1.6-trillion student debt problem, the solution to which shouldn’t hinge on one’s luck of timing, says Keith B. Shoates, vice president of the office of the CEO at Vista Equity Partners. “That was a transformational gift. But it doesn’t scale. It was for one institution, for one class of students.”