Billionaire Robert Smith's gift to Morehouse class 'shocks' ex-student who left the school over debt

Two years before Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the Morehouse College class of 2019’s student loans, a former undergrad said he left the school because of the mounting debt crippling his life.

Jordan Long began attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., at 2015, but by 2017 he said he was drowning in more than $60,000 in student loans and was worried about the money he would have to shell out to remain at the college for two more years. The cost to attend the school, including room and board, totaled about $48,500 for the 2018-2019 school year, the college's website stated.

“I was worried about more loans building up,” Long told People on Wednesday.

Long decided to leave the college, return to Oakland, Calif., and start community college while living at home. On Sunday, what was supposed to be Long’s graduation day, Smith, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, announced his family was setting up a grant to wipe out the class of 2019’s student debt. The gift for nearly 400 grads is estimated to be $40 million.

Along with feeling left out, Long told People that he felt “shock, happiness…a little sadness” after hearing the news. He also took his frustration out in a tweet.

“I left Morehouse class of 2019 to avoid debt and this billionaire just paid the graduating class’s debt off. Kill me,” Long tweeted Sunday.

“Billionaires giving charity is not a solution to a systematic problem and we have to be politically and socially active to fix this problem — we can’t let it continue,” Long told the magazine on Wednesday.

It’s unclear if Long will be able to get a portion of Smith’s gift. Morehouse College spokeswoman Aileen Dodd told People that details surrounding the billionaire’s donation are still being sorted out.

“The details of the gift are still being discussed. We will know more later this week,” she said.

Long decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay off his remaining loans, which he says still amount to more than $50,000.

Long hopes to start a career as a community organizer, but is currently taking a semester off to earn money for tuition, People reported. He’s aiming to get associate’s degrees in business and sociology.

Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $5 billion, founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies. He received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the graduation ceremony, where he urged others to “pay it forward” to help the future generation succeed.


Sunday wasn’t the first time Smith made a generous donation to a school. In 2016, he pledged $50 million of his personal money through a foundation to his alma mater, Cornell University’s School Of Engineering.