Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes interviews one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda Gates. Twenty years ago, the Gates pledged one billion dollars to send 20,000 disadvantaged students to college. Their tuition and expenses were paid in full. ($1 billion divided by 20,000 = $50,000 per student.) As Pelley says, the Gates made “the seemingly impossible possible” to tens of thousands of strangers. At the University of Central Florida, 60 Minutes cameras film the Gates meeting and greeting a handful of students who have benefited from their scholarship program.
Pelley asks the college grads how they were notified of their scholarships. They all said by mail which has Pelley laughing. He can’t believe the founder of Microsoft sent the acceptance letters via “snail mail.” When Pelley asks what it was like to receive one of those letters, one young woman breaks down in tears, trying to describe the moment, which has Bill Gates teary-eyed too. When Pelley interviews just the Gates, Bill Gates says one of the big questions behind the scholarship was could a group of minority students have very high achievement at some of the toughest universities in the country if there was no financial constraint.” Melinda Gates says, “What’s proven itself out now with this scholarship program is, you remove that barrier, they not only do as well as their white peers, no matter what zip code they’re from, they often actually do better.” 60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7pm on CBS.
Note: On this 60 Minutes episode, Pelley reports “nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t have a degree.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau in a report released in April 2017, 33.4 percent of Americans 25 or older said they have a bachelor’s degree or higher. (That’s the highest level measured by the bureau.) The Census Bureau first asked about education levels in 1940 – when just 4.6 percent said they had a four-year degree.