Snapchat is known for many things, but not for making student loan payments. But alas, that is exactly what the popular social media company’s creator and CEO did recently. Evan Spiegel and his wife Miranda Kerr paid off the entire graduating class of 2022’s student loan debt at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. Forbes reports that the generous contribution is alleged to be worth more than $10 million, and will also in part fund a repayment initiative going forward.
The young Snapchat mogul’s announcement came during the college’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15th. Spiegel, along with his wife –the CEO of the skincare company KORA Organics – both received honorary degrees this year from the institution alongside Bobby Berk, a host of the reality TV show, Queer Eye. Spiegel himself attended classes at the private art school when he was still in high school.
During the commencement speeches, the Snapchat power couple declared the higher education institute as “extraordinary.” Also, they detailed the college as being a place that inspires and motivates young individuals to “find their artistic voices” in order to flourish in a plethora of different careers. Charles Hirschhorn, the president of Otis College made the announcement to the class of approximately 285 students during the ceremony. As the largest donation ever received to the college, Spiegel and his wife said that they “hope this gift will empower graduates to pursue their passions, contribute to the world, and inspire humanity for years to come.”
The charitable gift to Otis College was more than enough to pay off the graduating classes’ student debt balance, and the rest of the funds will be put to good use at the school. The college will also use the Snapchat CEO’s donations to fund the Alternative Loan Debt Repayment Fund. For future classes, this fund will allow charitable donations to be made to graduating students with similar educational loans that have been secured outside of the college.
This announcement comes at a time when student loans are a heated topic dividing many Americans. While many lawmakers and liberals boast student loan cancellation as a means to boost the economy, critics of student loan forgiveness believe it will only benefit the wealthiest classes. After all, reports have proven that the majority of student loan balances currently owed belong to the richest group of Americans. But in defense of the Snapchat businessman’s decision to pay off student loan debt for hundreds of students, the majority of the student body is reported to receive financial aid, suggesting they do not come from affluent backgrounds. Likewise, more than three-quarters of the Otis College population identity as Black.
Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr join a long list of benefactors placing their wealth into student loan debt. Recently, an anonymous donor enacted a similar effort, paying off all student loan debt for the graduating class of Wiley College, a historically Black college in Marshall, Texas. Similarly, they join a long-standing list of celebrities that are known to pay off student loan debt for fans. Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, and Chrissy Teigen are just a few that have made similar efforts in the past.
The cost to obtain a degree is perpetually rising, and becoming unaffordable to many Americans. While the government’s looming decision on whether or not to enact a mass cancellation of student loan debt may be debatable, there is no denying the fact that this debt is furthering the decline in the notion that college degrees –especially advanced ones – might not be worth it in the long run. Still, the wealthiest businessmen and women of the U.S., like this Snapchat CEO, seem to understand that issue and are doing what they can to make a difference.