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Billionaire surprises students at Massachusetts college with big graduation gift

Billionaire and Celtics co-owner surprises UMass Dartmouth grads with $1,000 each
Billionaire and Celtics co-owner surprises UMass Dartmouth grads with $1,000 each 00:59

DARTMOUTH - Students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth got an amazing graduation gift from their commencement speaker Thursday. Billionaire Robert Hale surprised more than 1,100 graduates with $1,000 each. 

"Each of you is getting $1,000 cash right now," he said. 

Gift comes with one "catch"

There was one instruction to go along with his gift. Hale said $500 is for the graduates to keep and $500 is for them to give to others. He invited them all to share in the joy of giving by gifting the money to a cause or person who needs it more than they do.

"These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring and giving," he said. "Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever."  

Hale is the CEO of Quincy-based Granite Telecommunications, which he founded in 2002, and a co-owner of the Boston Celtics. Forbes estimates his net worth at $5.4 billion. 

Graduation surprise becoming a tradition

And Hale has done the same thing before. Last year, he gave $1,000 to all 2,523 graduates at UMass Boston. And in 2021, he gifted the same amount to 230 Quincy College graduates.

College graduates can certainly use the cash. It's been less than a year since the COVID-era student loan payment pause ended. The Education Department said that roughly 40% of student loan borrowers who owed a payment when the pause ended in October 2023 failed to make that payment by mid-November. 

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