Student Freedom Initiative


Virginia State University does not endorse Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus and other private education loans product. Virginia State University is not affiliated with Student Freedom Initiative. Student Freedom Initiative is a single-purpose nonprofit organization that provides a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) by increasing their social and economic mobility using a student-centric, evidence-based, holistic and collaborative approach.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization takes a head-on approach to addressing the wealth gap in the U.S. that greatly affects the economic mobility of minority students. With unique programming geared towards minority students and partnerships with MSIs across the country, students pursuing STEM careers are given a breath of fresh air when it comes to paying for an education. Student Freedom Initiative’s programs are focused on strategic outcomes that include:

Liberate students to make sound career decisions and life choices 

  • Increase the economic mobility for Students of Color through pursuit of STEM careers 
  • Provide more favorable terms and flexibility than other financial alternatives
  • Enable MSI transformation, resilience, and increased competitiveness
  • Provide transformative model for policy, researchers, and policy advocate

History of Student Freedom Initiative  

The vision for Student Freedom Initiative began with Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and his passion for helping minority students. In 2019, Smith paid off the student loan debt of the entire Morehouse College graduating class and that act sparked the idea for a program that could help minority students launch careers without crushing loan debt. As an African American, Smith understands the racial and economic barriers that minority students face and as a philanthropist, he wants to make a difference for future generations.  

Smith teamed up with experts in the education and finance fields to create real life solutions to the crippling student debt held by many minority students. The result of this collaboration and brainstorming was Student Freedom Initiative of which Smith now serves as Chairman. Initial donations from Smith and the nonprofit organization Fund II Foundation totaled $100 million and helped launch Student Freedom Initiative in the fall of 2021.