Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel, who once took summer classes at the Otis College of Art and Design, attended the school’s graduation commencement ceremony with his wife – Australian model Miranda Kerr – on Sunday evening.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Charles Hirschhorn, the president of Otis, shared the stunning news with the school’s Class of 2022: That their entire college debt would be paid off by the billionaire couple.
The donation by the tech entrepreneur is the largest in the college’s history, and sparked raucous celebrations from the students at the ceremony held in the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel.
Pictures and video showed them in their graduation gowns cheering, hugging and crying as the news was given to them. Some simply stood in a state of shock.
Their reaction was captured in a live stream of the commencement ceremony.
The founder of Snapchat Evan Spiegel and his model wife Miranda Kerr have paid off the entire student debt belonging to 284 graduates at an art college in Los Angeles. Pictured: The couple are seen at at the Otis College of Art and Design commencement ceremonies where graduating students learned that Spiegel has paid for their tuition
Pictured: Graduating students at the Otis College of Art and Design celebrate upon learning that their student debts would be paid off by Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel
Concluding his commencement speech, Hirschhorn told the room full of students: ‘We have one more gift for the class of 2022. We know that for most of you, and your families, the shared burden of student debt is a heavy price that you paid for an exceptional Otis college education.
‘We understand that this debt can compromise your future and limit your creative ambitions. We do not want to see this happen. We want to empower your imagination, your creativity, and innovation. As Evan mentioned in his remarks, you have the support of the entire Otis community – as well as Miranda and Evan.
‘So we are pleased to announce today, that Evan and Miranda, through their Spiegel family fund, have made the largest single gift in the history of Otis college. Their gift will enable you to repay your student loans.’
As the news sunk in, the students were shown jumping out of their seats. Some wiped away tears, while others sat in their chairs in shocked disbelief.
Applause instantly broke out among the audience as Spiegel and Kerr stood up from their seats on stage, beaming at the students in the crowd.
A clearly emotional President Hirschhorn explained briefly how the fund would work, before telling the students that there was an envelope for each of them outside the room with their name on that would contain more information.
‘People are crying, it’s making me cry,’ he said to more applause, wiping back tears.
Spiegel and Kerr also received an honorary Doctorate from the college, as did interior designer and Netflix ‘Queer Eye’ star Bobby Berk.
Pictured: Students celebrate upon learning that their student debt will be paid off
Pictured: Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel gives a speech as he accepts an honorary doctorate from the Otis College of Art and Design, as his wife (left) Miranda Kerr watches on
Spiegel, 31, became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2015 with the creation of the popular instant messaging app, along with two of his former Stanford University classmates – Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown.
Spiegel is now the CEO of Snap Inc., and is worth an estimated $13.8 billion.
Kerr, meanwhile, is a highly successful model and founder of the award-winning beauty company Kora.
Before studying at Stanford, he took summer classes at Otis college, telling the graduating students: ‘It changed my life and made me feel at home.’
He added: ‘I felt pushed and challenged to grow surrounded by super talented artists and designers, and we were all in it together.’
Kerr and Spiegel founded the The Spiegel Family Fund, a philanthropic organization that helps fund the arts, education, housing and human rights causes in LA.
In a statement, they said that the college ‘an extraordinary institution that encourages young creatives to find their artistic voices and thrive in a variety of industries and careers,’ the LA times reported.
Spiegel, 31, became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2015 with the creation of the popular instant messaging app, along with two of his former Stanford University classmates – Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown. Pictured: Spiegel watches as students at Otis college graduate
Pictured: Graduating students are shown as they learn their debts will be paid off
Pictured: Interior designer and Netflix ‘Queer Eye’ star Bobby Berk accepts an honorary degree from Otis College of Art and Design
Pictured: A student graduates from Otis College of Art and Design on Sunday evening
Pictured: A graduating student is seen at Otis College of Art and Design’s graduation ceremony, with ‘I survived Otis’ written on top of their hat
Otis College awards honorary degrees to Evan Spiegel, Miranda Kerr, and Bobby Berk
‘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.’
The issue of mounting student loan debt has become a key political talking point in recent years. On average, college graduates finish with almost $30,000 of loan debt, which is an increase of over 300 percent from 1970 – adjusting for inflation.
The LA times reported that just in California, 3.8 million of the state’s residents owe $141.8 billion in student debt – the largest share of any state in the US.
Research shows that the burden of this debt results in poor mental health, physical health, and a reduction in overall satisfaction with life. It can also cause borrowers to put off other life decisions like getting married, having children or buying a house.
Some of the students at the ceremony on Sunday told the LA Times that they were finishing college with $70,000 debt, which the donation has relieved them of.
Australian model Miranda Kerr and her husband CEO of Snap inc. Evan Spiegel attend the Berggruen Prize Gala at the Berggruen Hearst estate in Beverly Hills, California on May 4, 2022
Pictured: The Otis College of Art and Design, where Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel once attended summer classes. On Sunday, it was announced he was paying off the student debt belonging to the school’s graduating class of 2022
Otis president Hirschhorn said in a statement: ‘Otis College is incredibly grateful for this historic gift from Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel, which will be life-changing for the Class of 2022 and their families.’
‘Student debt weighs heavily on our diverse and talented graduates. We hope this donation will provide much-deserved relief and empower them to pursue their aspirations and careers, pay this generosity forward, and become the next leaders of our community.’
Earlier this month – amid reports president Joe Biden could write-off some student debt – White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that if he wipes away portions of Americans’ student loans, he’d only do so for those making under $125,000 a year.
‘Well, the president talked, back on the campaign, about taking steps or looking at steps to help people making less than $125,000 a year, so that is the frame through which he’s considering – making considerations at this point,’ Psaki said on board Air Force One as the president traveled to Alabama to tour a Lockheed Martin plant.
The president said in April he’d use executive action to relieve some student debt from Americans.