Will Ferrell surprised a college student with $100,000 to pay for her tuition.

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell

The 'House' actor stunned Samantha Watts when he presented her with a cheque to cover the costs of her speech pathology course after her family fell on hard times when her father was diagnosed with cancer.

Appearing on 'Today', Will handed over a giant ceremonial cheque on behalf of Warner Bros. and joked to Samantha: "You can't actually cash this, OK? They'll give you a real cheque."

Samantha, who is studying at Ithaca College in New York, thought she was just a finalist in a scholarship contest to help a worthy student pay for their classes, so she was stunned when programme host Hoda Kotb told her she was actually the winner.

She said: "My dad actually ... is just recovered from oesophageal cancer and a lot of our money had to go towards that last year. It would be life changing for me."

After being told she would be receiving the money, she broke down in tears and said: "I'm flabbergasted. This is amazing!"

Last month, Will returned to the University of South California - which he graduated from in 1990 - to give a commencement address and as well as a moving speech, also serenaded the students with a rendition of Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You'.

He sang to the crowd plus those watching the livestreamed event online: "If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I'll go, but I know, I'll think of you every step of the way. And I will always love you, will always love you, will always love you, Class of 2017. And I will always love you! Thank you. Fight on!"

Before launching into the song, the 'Anchorman' actor told the students to think of him singing the song "gently" in their ear whenever they "feel a little down".

He said: "Class of 2017, I just want you to know you will never be alone on whatever path you may choose. If you do have a moment where you feel a little down just think of the support you have from this great Trojan family and imagine me, literally picture my face, singing this song gently into your ear."

It wasn't all fun and games though, as Will - who has sons Magnus, 13, Mattias, 10, and Axel, seven, with his wife Viveca Paulin - also offered some serious advice.

He said: "To those of you graduates sitting out there who have a pretty good idea of what you'd like to do with your life, congratulations. For many of you who maybe don't have it all figured out, it's okay. That's the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result."

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