Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr Pay Off Otis College Graduates’ Student Debt: NPR

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and KORA Organics CEO Miranda Kerr attend a gala in Beverly Hills, California on May 4. The couple surprised Los Angeles art school graduates by paying off their student debt.

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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and KORA Organics CEO Miranda Kerr attend a gala in Beverly Hills, California on May 4. The couple surprised Los Angeles art school graduates by paying off their student debt.

David Livingston/Getty Images

As Sunday’s commencement ceremony for the Otis College of Art and Design drew to a close, graduates prepared to throw off their caps and embark on the professional world. They would be armed with new degrees and, in many cases, struggling with student loans.

According to the nonprofit Los Angeles institution, some 77% of students identify as people of color and more than 90% receive financial aid. Its president, Charles Hirschhorn, acknowledged from the podium that while the college experience offers many gifts, it also has a cost.

“We know that for most of you and your families, the shared burden of student debt is a heavy price you paid for an exceptional education at Otis College,” he said. “We understand that this debt can jeopardize your future and limit your creative ambitions. We don’t want that to happen. We want to empower your imagination, your creativity and your innovation.”

And so, he announced, the school had one more gift for its future alumni: it would pay off their outstanding debt.

This is thanks to a generous donation from the introductory speakers – Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap Inc., and Miranda Kerr, CEO of KORA Organics, who have been married since 2017. They also received honorary doctorates at Sunday’s ceremony, as well as weird eye design expert Bobby Berk.

Spiegel took design lessons from Otis in high school before enrolling at Stanford University, where he co-founded social media company Snapchat in 2011 (four years later he became the world’s youngest billionaire ). Bloomberg estimates the 31-year-old’s current net worth is around $5.05 billion.

Without specifying an amount, the school said in a statement that the donation from the Spiegel Family Fund is the largest in the college’s history and “will pay off outstanding student debt for students in the class of 2022.” .

That’s 285 people, according to the Los Angeles Timeswhich also indicates that the college’s previous largest donation was $10 million.

When Hirschhorn broke the news, the students cheered and jumped out of their seats for a long standing ovation. When he finally returned to his speech, his voice began to waver.

“People cry, it makes me cry,” he said, laughing and wiping his face.

Hirschhorn explained that Otis created two funds: one for full repayment of existing graduate debt for loans certified by the college’s financial aid office, and one for charitable donations to graduate students with loans. of similar studies guaranteed outside college. He said students would receive envelopes with more information when they leave the ceremony.

The U.S. Department of Education scorecard puts the typical total debt of Otis undergraduate borrowers at $27,000 after graduation.

Donors and the school hope the debt relief will allow graduates to pursue their ambitions in the worlds of art and design, become leaders in the community and eventually pay it forward.

“It is a privilege for our family to give back and support the Class of 2022, and we hope this gift will empower the graduates to pursue their passions, contribute to the world and inspire humanity for years to come” , Spiegel and Kerr said in a statement.

Several students, still in shock, told the Time that the surprise takes a huge weight off their shoulders as they begin their careers.

Farhan Fallahifiroozi, whose family emigrated from Iran in 2015, said they were worried about the more than $60,000 debt he had incurred to fund his studies and that his mother cried when he heard the news .

“I had so much debt,” he said. “If it’s all really gone, that gives me so much of a lead.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly extended the pause on student loan repayments, most recently pushing back the restart date until September 1. The president also faces growing pressure from Democrats to eliminate student debt altogether, especially in light of his campaign promise to cancel $10,000 in student debt per borrower.

And in the meantime, as NPR’s Cory Turner reports, student loan interest rates are about to rise.

Spiegel and Kerr weren’t the only donors hoping to offer relief this graduation season.

To cite just a few other examples: Graduates of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, had their debts erased by an anonymous donor. And restaurateur Pinky Cole announced at the commencement of her alma mater, Clark University in Atlanta, that she was offering each of her more than 800 graduates their own limited liability company to start their journey in as entrepreneurs.

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