It’s May – and that means that thousands of colleges across the country are celebrating years’ worth of study time, exams and research papers and the completion of it all. Students are moving out of dorms and heading to their first full-time jobs or back home. News coverage is rife with commencement addresses by celebrities, CEOs and philanthropists.
And as great as a speech may be, nothing will top the commencement address at Morehouse College – a historically black, men’s college – from Robert Smith, former chemical engineer and investment banker as well as current founder, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.
Toward the end of his address, Smith announced that he will be paying the student loan debt for the entire graduating class, according to USA Today
. It’s estimated that his total gift to the class will be valued at $40 million.
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At the sound of his pledge, the crowd erupted into cheers, families were hugging one another and graduates were shaking hands and clapping one another on the back. The announcement didn’t just impact the graduates; it impacted that entire community comprised of family, friends and Morehouse alumni.
For graduates of Morehouse, this gift is life-changing. USA Today
profiled a young man, Elijah Dormeus, who was one of the beneficiaries. Dormeus holds nearly $100,000 in student loan debt, which he planned to pay back after landing a full-time job at AT&T. Paying off debt like that, however, would take decades. Instead, Dormeus plans to pay it forward, just as Smith instructed the graduates to do, by helping his little brother pay for his education at Morehouse College.
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For the millions of students that graduated from college this spring and did not get their student loan debt completely wiped out by a generous billionaire, there are ways to pay off student loan debt faster.
• Use the debt avalanche method to pay off student loans faster by making larger payments on loans with the greatest interest rate. This will not only save you time but money as well. Remember, though, to make the minimum payment on any other student loans throughout the repayment period.
• Take advantage of extra income opportunities like babysitting, dog-walking and retail, during the evenings and weekends. All of the income generated from those jobs can help you make extra payments on student loans.
• Speaking of extra payments, if you have a surplus in your monthly budget or receive a cash gift from a generous relative, use that to make extra payments on your student loan debt.
• Finally, consolidate your student loans into one. By doing this, you will likely get a lower interest rate, which saves you time and money in the long run since you won’t owe as much.
If you’re looking for most student loan debt strategies, check out our expert advice