Evan Spiegel Miranda Kerr paid off college loans for Otis College graduates
SNAP co-founder Evan Spiegel and his model wife Miranda Kerr have changed the lives of senior graduates by paying off at least $10 million in college debt.
Charles Hirschhorn, the president of the Otis College of Art and Design, announced the huge donation during Sunday night’s graduation ceremony which took place at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
“We know that for most of you and your families, the shared burden of student debt is a heavy price you paid for an exceptional education at Otis College,” Hirschhorn said of the Class of 2022. We understand that this debt can jeopardize your future and limit your creative ambitions. We don’t want that to happen.” He continued: “We are pleased to announce today that Evan and Miranda, through their Spiegel Family Fund, have made the largest donation in the history of Otis College, their donation will help pay your student loans.
Hirschhorn was interrupted by cheers and a standing ovation from the students.
Otis spokesman Lawrence Aldava declined to verify the specific amount of the donation when asked by parents today, but he did confirm that Spiegel and Kerr’s donation exceeded the previous largest donation that the college received, which was $10 million.
“Making the announcement was truly extraordinary,” Hirschhorn told TODAY Parents. “Students have enough reasons to be pessimistic about their future, whether it’s debt, climate change, the pandemic, or hate crimes…so it was incredibly profound [to see] people react with joy, relief or confusion.
Hirschhorn says Spiegel, who took summer school at Otis as a teenager, Kerr, and “Queer Eye” star and interior designer Bobby Berk have all received honorary doctorates of fine arts.
Spiegel and Kerr did not immediately respond to TODAY Parents’ request for comment, but said in a press release sent to TODAY Parents by Otis:
“Otis College of Art and Design is an extraordinary institution that encourages young creatives to find their artistic voice and thrive in a variety of industries and careers. It is a privilege for our family to give back and support the Class of 2022, and we hope this gift will empower the graduates to pursue their passions, contribute to the world, and inspire humanity for years to come.
According to NBC News, President Biden plans to relieve some of the country’s $1.73 trillion student debt. “The president has been incredibly responsive to that. He made it seem like it was a priority for him, and he said he understood it was on the minds of young people,” a congressional aide told NBC. Student loan debt has a “profound” effect on borrowers, says the Center for Law and Social Policy, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit. The organization says debt can keep people in jobs they don’t like or prevent them from buying a home or starting a family, especially among black or low-income borrowers.
Hirschhorn tells TODAY Parents that 77% of Otis’ students are people of color and more than 90% have student loans.
“Everyone is trying to process what’s going on,” says Hirschhorn. “It’s absolutely joyful.”
Yaritza Velazquez-Medina, a BFA graduate, called the donation “a gift for a new life of possibility” in comments sent by Otis to TODAY Parents. Velazquez-Medina added that she is now motivated to start her own business, save for a home and fill her retirement funds – and those of her parents.
In other comments from the college, student Farhan Fallahifiroozi, who studied fashion design with a minor in sustainability, said, “This is just the biggest gift I’ve ever received.”
Fallahifiroozi said he took out several loans that amounted to a “large monthly payment”.
He continued, “This gift just takes that weight off my shoulders and now I can spend this money that I’m earning right now and invest it in my future and what I really want to do in the next 5, 10 years. It couldn’t have been better.