Morehouse College is an HBCU located in Atlanta (Photo Credit: Regal Media Group/Todd A. Smith).
Almost 3,000 Morehouse College graduates owed their alma mater approximately $10 million in loan payments.
Now, those graduates of the prestigious college in Atlanta owe the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges Universities) nothing, thanks to the philanthropy of an activist organization.
Loan reimbursement has held back many college graduates from fully experiencing the American dream.
Now, those lucky graduates do not have that particular financial hurdle to cross as they begin and continue their professional careers.
Many schools will not even release academic records to graduate schools or companies if former students have not satisfied their outstanding debt.
Debt Collective press secretary Braxton Brewington said, “The financial burden prevents them from being able to move on with their lives. It just sort of follows them.”
In 2021, Hechinger Report found that 6.6 million students had gotten blocked from getting their academic transcripts.
The report found that that number disproportionately affects students of color.
According to Alia Wong of USA Today, “The 2,777 former students attended Morehouse College, a historically Black liberal arts school for men in Atlanta. And collectively, they owed Morehouse $9,707,827.67 through the fall 2022 term, some of the accounts dating back decades. With the help of the Debt Collective, a union of debtors, and in collaboration with the college, a 5013(c)(4) known as Rolling Jubilee Fund bought out the debt.
“This is a tiny sliver of the national student debt pie. And the action, notably, did not apply to any federal student loans, which nationwide now amount to more than $1.6 trillion and for which payments resumed a few weeks ago after a yearslong, pandemic-era hiatus. This was a debt owed directly to the college—whether loans to attend, unpaid tuition, or even parking fees.”
This is not the first time that Debt Collective has helped college graduates ease the financial burden of adulthood.
The organization bought $1.7 million in outstanding student balances at Bennett College, an HBCU for women in North Carolina.
Furthermore, this is not the first time that Morehouse College garnered headlines for philanthropy when it comes to student debt.
In 2019, billionaire Robert Smith announced, right before students received their diplomas, that he would be paying off all student loans for those graduates.
Later, Smith became embroiled in a tax evasion ordeal.
Morehouse President David A. Thomas said, “Debt has proven itself to be one of the strongest deterrents in a prospective students’ decision to attend college and inhibitors in alumni’s socioeconomic success post-graduation. It’s why our Morehouse’s $500 million capital campaign aims to position the College as a need-blind institution by 2030. Partners like the Debt Collective and Rolling Jubilee are making the investment to help level the financial playing field for students and alumni, and we are all tremendously grateful for their vote of confidence through such a generous gift and financial relief.”
USA Today’s Wong added, “Black students are less likely to enjoy generational wealth and thus more likely to go into debt for their education. Students who attend historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, borrow at a far greater rate than their peers at other types of schools and are nearly three times as likely to borrow $40,000 or more, according to the United Negro College Fund.”
Furthermore, the fact that many HBCUs graduates rely on loans because of the lack of generational wealth adversely affects them if they want to give back to their alma maters, which are often underfunded in comparison to their White counterparts.
Morehouse College made more headlines recently when it received $4 million for new buildings and academic programs.
Two major corporations gave $4 million for a campus center and a future Morehouse Real Estate Institute.
Last week, Google gave the HBCU a $1 million donation, with no restrictions.
And real estate company Prologis gave $3 million for the real estate institute.
Thomas serves on Google’s HBCU Presidents’ Council.
The gift from Google comes because of his relationship with the technology company.
Google’s donation will be used for the campus center.
Thomas said, “We’re literally transforming what’s called the main campus. We don’t have today a space that really pulls our community together, a kind of crossroad.”
To solve that problem, Morehouse will turn two campus parking lots into a greenspace, which will be flanked by the campus center and two new dormitories.
The two new dorms are the first since 2003.
Mirtha Donastorg of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “The whole project is slated to be completed by September 2026 and will cost approximately $150 million to build, Thomas said. Around $60 million of that will be for the campus center, which will have dining facilities, student advising services, study spaces and places students can hold small seminars…
“In addition to the $1 million gift, Google will build a technology hub on campus that it calls Google Annex. The space will be designed completely by Google, including all the furnishings, and it will have $100,000 worth of technology. The tech giant will pilot these hubs at five HBCUs, including Morehouse.”
Morehouse is one of the most prestigious HBCUS in the country with alumni such as minister Martin Luther King, Sr., civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, activist and writer Shaun King and actor John David Washington, son of Academy Award winning actor, Denzel Washington.