The generosity of Mr. Smith — the richest black man in America — highlighted the systematic problems of debt in American college education.

Over all, the majority of seniors at four-year colleges — about two-thirds — are carrying student loan debt. In 2017, that average was nearly $29,000, according to an analysis of federal data from the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit advocating affordable higher education. Adjusted for inflation, that same average was about $13,000 in 1996.

“This generation of students is the most debt burdened ever, and it’s a huge problem for them,” said Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of Georgia and author of “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.”

Follow Robert F. Smith on Instagram 👉🏼 @Robertfredericksmith
Follow Robert F. Smith on Facebook 👉🏼 @Robertfredericksmith
Follow Robert F. Smith on Twitter 👉🏼 @rfs_vista