Qualifying junior and senior STEM majors at nine historically black colleges and universities can get financial aid from an alternative student loan program started by billionaire Robert F. Smith.

Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, launched the Student Freedom Initiative to help close the racial wealth gap of up to $ 2 trillion. The initiative’s organizers said 65% of black wealth is consumed by college loan debt, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

The program received its initial pledge of $ 50 million from the Fund II Foundation in June, and Smith matched the amount in October.

Student Freedom Initiative, which plans to launch in the fall of 2021, plans to offer approximately $ 32,000, on average, to each student during their junior and senior years, which they will have to repay based on their income after the graduation, according to TIME.

“By tackling the financial stress of college and providing students with resources and community, we can finally expand the talent pool and create a more diverse and thriving economy,” Smith said in a statement.

Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Tougaloo College, Tuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana have agreed to participate in the program.


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