'Bittersweet': Oakland man who left Morehouse College expresses mix of pain, joy after billionaire offers to pay graduate's debt

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It has been less than a week since an Equity Fund Billionaire announced he would pay off the student loan debt of the Morehouse College graduating class.

Those graduating seniors are walking on air. But, a local student forced to drop out because of the high cost is thinking about what might have been.

Remember the offer heard round the world? "My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student debt"

That sentence from billionaire Robert Smith was worth about $40 million to seniors at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta.

To Jordan Long of Oakland it was like a punch to the gut. "It was like bittersweet and sad and kind of like dang!"

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Long spent two years at Morehouse after graduating from Oakland Tech. He had dreams of getting an education and changing the world. But money got in the way.

Long's dad, James Copes, has owned several T-shirt stores throughout Oakland in the past and is fixing up a kiosk outside city hall to open a new one.

It became difficult to come up with the $48,000 a year in tuition.

Long was forced to drop out before this school year started.

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He says he is happy for his former Morehouse classmates, and he started a GoFundMe page because he still owes 60-thousand dollars.

Which led him to this conclusion. "We have to make education free and high quality for everyone. It has to be a right."

Contrast his story with that of Tasha Armstead and her son Kyle Jackson.

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He graduated Las Lomas High and enrolled at Morehouse. Mom moved there from Walnut Creek to cut down on expenses.

He has $150,000 in student loans.

They were in the audience when Robert Smith made his announcement. "It was this weird pause, and initially we were just like, really, did we hear what he said. Is that correct" Tasha said.

"When he said it, we were all excited and jumped right up. It was an historical moment and it still hasn't really sunk in" according to Kyle.

Jackson promises to pay it forward. So does Long, even if he didn't get the money.
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