The average recent college graduate lugs around $30,000 in student debt (for ONCE, I wish I was average…go figure). This substantial burden forces these individuals to forgo or severely postpone a lot of major life decisions such as traveling to see the world, marriage, children, home ownership and more. With our nation experience more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, that number will most likely keep rising until I’m pretty sure we will have to create a new number (is there really something after trillion? Quadrillion? Seriously?)
As we all start to seriously consider selling double organs (who really needs two kidneys) on the black market to help pay off our loans, more and more organizations are working to help recent graduates find ways to pay off their debts by doing good in their communities. Here are a few…
This cool new company has three main goals:
- Increase civic engagement among millenials
- Decrease student loan burdens
- Help young adults strengthen their resumes with meaningful social work
A graduate can propose a community service project they would like to create and the site will match them with a relevant non-profit. Once they are matched, they can start reaching out to potential sponsors and donors, all of whose funds will go to paying off the individual’s debt. Funding usually ranges from $10-$20/hr and currently is only open to Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago, but is quickly expanding to a city near you.
ZeroBound is similar to SponsorChange as far its goals for its users, but has a different and broader approach to the funding. Users need not individually seek out sponsors and donors, but instead simply propose a service project they would like to complete, which is then made into a crowdfunding campaign, where anyone can donate to it. If the project is successfully completed, ZeroBound applies all raised dollars directly to the user’s college debt.
You may or may not be familiar with the fact that many community service career paths offer assistance with paying off student debt.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program offers reprieve (forgiveness of rest of debt) after 10 years of full-time public service employment, as well as 120 on time payments. This actually doesn’t help many individuals who are on 10 year programs, but if you choose a 25 year repayment plan, this could be of interest to you. Eligible careers include working at non-profits, government organizations (libraries, school, etc.) to public interest lawyers and doctors. You can find more eligible occupations here.
There are also options in the healthcare industry. The National Health Service Corps sends primary care providers to underserved areas for up to $50,000 in tuition assistance after over years. The National Institute of Health repays up to $35,000 of a graduate’s student loans for each year they conduct research for a non-profit or government organization.
These are all great ways to give back to others while helping yourself with what I’m sure is one of the biggest debts you’ll ever have. Try and get involved!
*Referenced from article on LearnVest.