Oakland student left Morehouse College to avoid debt — then billionaire announced loan payoff

Bay Area

OAKLAND (KRON) — Burdened with more than $50,000 in student loan debt, Oakland native Jordan Long made the decision to transfer out of Morehouse College back in 2017 and move back home to the Bay Area. 

Little did he know, the would-have-been 2019 graduate could have had all his college debt paid off by this year’s commencement speaker, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith, who vowed over the weekend to pay off all 2019 Morehouse graduates’ debt — an estimated $40 million.

Long told KRON4 on Monday he was shocked after hearing the news over the weekend, but “super happy” for his former classmates and friends at Morehouse.

Smith made the announcement Sunday at the historically black college in Atlanta. According to the college, the billionaire’s donation marks the single largest gift the university has ever received. 

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith said Sunday. “This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Long, a 2015 graduate of Oakland Technical High School, said he was set to graduate from Morehouse this year, but because of the cost to attend the college and the financial impact it was having on his family, he decided to transfer to a community college closer to home. 

The 22-year-old said he’s happy for his friends at Morehouse who will benefit from the investor’s donation, but said he would really like to see free education become a right for everyone. 

“Overall I just [want] everyone’s debt wiped,” he said. “It will take many of us being politically and socially active to make free quality education a right for everyone.”

The college student is now working on his associates degree in business and sociology and has plans to finish his degree at California State University, East Bay. 

Saddled with Morehouse College debt, but no degree, Long created a GoFundMe fundraiser in hopes of getting some help to pay off his student debt. 

In a tweet, Long simply called himself “unlucky,” and also said, “I left Morehouse class of 2019 to avoid debt and this billionaire just paid the graduating class’s debt off. Kill me”

In the 2018-19 school year, tuition at Morehouse College cost students $25,368 — with room and board, books, transportation and other fees making the estimated annual cost of attendance more than $48,000 per year, according to the college.

As for his first reaction to hearing about Smith’s donation, Long said he thought he was dreaming because of the shock.

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