More than 400 California college graduates were left overwhelmed with joy and surprise earlier this week after they were told that anonymous donors had paid off their student debt.
The unidentified benefactors paid off the debt by donating more than $8 million to Students Rising Above (SRA), a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that helps send low-income, first-generation college students through college and provide them with personal guidance, mentoring, internships, and career guidance.
Despite how 100% of SRA students are from low-to-moderate incomes and 62% are living below the federal poverty line, however, the average SRA grad finishes school with $8,000 in debt.
“With student loans increasingly becoming a financial burden, SRA is grateful for the opportunity to facilitate relief to our hardworking alumni who have become highly productive members of the workforce nationwide,” said SRA CEO Elizabeth Devaney, who informed the grads of their relieved debts in a Zoom call this week.
Kimberly Armstrong, who owed $300,000 in law school debts, is just one of the SRA students who has now been freed from the financial burden thanks to the generous donation. She told KPIX: “It’s a shock; it’s amazing; it’s a relief, though … Literally, it’s a weight lifted.”
Dr. Zachary Tabb, who owed $160,000 in medical school debt, agreed with the sentiment.
“It’s life changing. I’ve had debt … really my entire adult life. And so it’s just something that—everywhere you go—it follows you,” he told reporters. “It’s really a generational impact. To completely un-burden myself and all of them … has a real multiplicative effect … not only on [my fellow SRA scholars’] lives, but on the contributions they can make to society.”
(WATCH the heartwarming coverage below — or our international viewers can watch the video on the CBS News website)
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