Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel surprise 285 graduates by paying off their college debt

Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel surprise 285 graduates by paying off their college debt
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285 graduates from the Otis College of Art and Design received life-changing news that all their college debt was going to be paid off in the largest donation in the school's history - made by Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel and wife Miranda Kerr.

Students were informed of the major donation just moments before they were set to walk across the stage. From the audience, gasps, tears, and hugs were exchanged as they realized their futures had been changed for the better.

Spiegel, 31, co-founded the popular social networking app Snapchat in 2011 and became the world's youngest billionaire in 2015.

But before finding success in Snapchat, Spiegel took summer classes at Otis in high school which he told graduates changed his life.

“I felt pushed and challenged to grow surrounded by super talented artists and designers, and we were all in it together," he said.

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Spiegel served as this year's commencement speaker alongside Kerr who is the founder of skincare company Kora organics.

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr receive honorary degrees as commencement speakers Getty Images

Students from the school spoke to the Los Angeles Timesabout the donation's impact on them.

“I had so much debt. If it’s really all gone, it puts me so much ahead," student Farhan Fallahifiroozi told the LA Times.

“For a lot of us, because of the pandemic, it’s hard to find a job,” student Yaritza Velazquez-Medina told the paper. “It’s such a relief. It’s a weight off your shoulders.”

“I immediately burst into tears,” student Hope Mackey said. “It’s insane. I can’t believe this is actually happening.”

US student loan debt totals $1.762 trillion according to EducationData.org and each year that number increases. Student loan debt also disproportionately impacts students of color and low-income households.

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

Kerr and Spiegel chose not to disclose the amount they donated but it surmounted the school's largest previous donation of $10 million.

The ultra-wealthy paying off graduates' student loan debt has become a trend in recent years. In 2019, billionaire Robert Smith paid off the student loan debt of 400 students from Morehouse College.

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