How to wipe out student debt…

Crowdfunding, volunteering, trivia — and other unexpected ways to wipe out your student debt

  • More employers are looking into offering student debt assistance.
  • Yes, volunteering can bring you debt relief.

As student debt grows, so do the plans to squelch it.

Some of the ideas are pretty creative: New Jersey, for example, is considering establishing a lottery for borrowers burdened by student debt. Other ways of getting money to eliminate your education debt don’t rely on luck, but rather require rolling up your sleeves or knowing historical facts.

Keep in mind, however, that these endeavors aren’t free aid. The funds are taxable, even money from an organization in return for volunteer work.

“All money you receive for volunteering or win on a trivia app or lottery is considered income by the IRS,” said Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert.

Here are some of the ways to get other people to pay off your debt.

1) At your job

Currently, just 4 percent of employers offer student debt assistance. But that’s changing as more employers come to realize education debt is a problem for many of their workers, said Katie Berliner, account executive at YouDecide, a benefits firm.

“In order to attract and retain talent, employers are looking at offering contributions to people’s student loans,” Berliner said.

Companies that have offered their employees help with their student loans include Aetna, Penguin Random House, Nvidia and Staples.

Fidelity announced recently that 25 employers — including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, New York Air Brake and Millennium Trust — plan to implement its student debt employer contribution program, with 9,000 employees expected to enroll by the end of June. (Fidelity also offers a student debt benefit for its own employees.)

“Do a quick Google search and find the employers who are out there doing this,” Berliner said.

Most likely the company you’re interviewing with won’t offer the benefit, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking about it, Berliner said.

“In the course of the interview, there comes a point where the interviewer says, ‘Do you have any questions?'” Berliner said. “It would not be out of line to say: ‘I want to get your perspective on whether you think this a valuable benefit.'”

2) By volunteering

Some organizations will help you pay off your student loans if you offer to do volunteer work.

Check out, where you can search to help in fields like disaster relief or politics, and will receive payments to put toward your education debt in return.

Starting in June, borrowers can enroll with Shared Harvest Fund. Users create a profile and list the social causes they’re interested in, such as gender equality or homelessness. You’ll work on projects for nonprofits and businesses and receive a monthly stipend of $250 to $1,000.

Although the work will start off in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, “eventually, people can live in Arkansas and do work for a nonprofit in Los Angeles,” said NanaEfua B.A.M, founder of Shared Harvest Fund.

3) Apps/online

Some people are turning to charity for help with their student loans, by detailing their story on a crowdfunding website like GoFundMe or YouCaring. One debtor, Andrew Daniel Rocha, managed to raise more than $5,600.

Keep in mind, Kantrowitz said, “these campaigns don’t seem to be successful unless the story is really compelling.”

Givling is an app that lets student loan borrowers play trivia, with the winning team each week earning roughly $5,000 per person. “Some people are not the best trivia players, but they’re motivated to get help with their student loans,” said Seth Beard, Givling’s chief marketing officer.

The app ChangeEd will put your spare change toward your student loan payments. For example, if you buy a coffee for $1.75, 25 cents will go toward your debt.

You can register your student loan account with Gift of College, an education registry, and then share your profile with friends and family, who can contribute funds directly to your debt. Nadine Perry, director of marketing at Gift of College, said: “Wouldn’t you rather get Aunt Emma to kick in toward your student loans than give you another ugly sweater for Christmas?”


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Housing Opportunities for Young Adults Repaying Student Debt

HAPPY 4th of July Weekend!!!!


HUD Secretary Castro, Panelists Discuss Housing Opportunities for Young Adults Repaying Student Debt


WASHINGTON (May 10, 2016) — Struggles exist for many young adults trying to become homeowners, and the burden of repaying their student loan debt is in part delaying their ability to buy, according to speakers at a regulatory issues forum on student debt and homeownership at the 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

The high-profile session discussing the impact student loan debt is having on young households’ ability to purchase homes was keynoted by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. During his remarks, Secretary Castro announced some of the regulatory changes coming soon to ensure housing opportunities exist for young men and women – many of whom are currently repaying the loans they borrowed to earn a college degree.

Secretary Castro began his address by saying the prescription to the American Dream has always been working hard, saving your money and investing in yourself, often by getting a great education. What has changed in recent times is that the third step – getting a great education – is more expensive than ever.

According to Castro, HUD is committed to working with its partners across the administration and in the housing community to explore additional changes that can help more Americans purchase a home. That’s why last November, Federal Housing Administration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ed Golding announced changes to condo rules that would address a lengthy and complex recertification process, owner-occupancy requirements, and limits on the types of property insurance that FHA considers acceptable coverage. Secretary Castro announced that the proposed condo rule has left the HUD building and is at the Office of Management and Budget for review.

“Today’s exciting news about the big changes coming to condos are a long-fought win for Realtors®, and we’re eager to see it come to fruition,” said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. “Realtors® know that condos are an important option for buyers, especially for first-time buyers looking for affordable options in the marketplace.”

Secretary Castro concluded, “Realtors® help make the dream of homeownership for so many Americans a reality, and HUD is committed to partnering with them to ensure that the hard-won progress we’re seeing in our housing market continues to grow for many years to come.

A panel discussion followed consisting of Rohit Chopra, a senior official at the U.S. Department of Education; Meta Brown, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; NAR’s Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research; and Mabel Guzman, chairwoman of NAR’s student loan debt work group and a Realtor® from Chicago-based real estate brokerage @Properties.

The panel participants agreed that in addition to affordability concerns, inventory shortages and lifestyle factors such as marrying later in life and having to repay student loan debt are burdening a segment of creditworthy buyers by making it more difficult to save for a down payment.

Discussing some of the ways the Education Department is working to address student loan debt, Chopra said income-based repayment options and holding student loan servicers more accountable during the repayment process will go a long way to ensuring that relief exists for those burdened by their debt. “We need to make sure the pillars of the American Dream of graduating from college and owning a home go together – and not compete with each other,” he said.

Sharing research from the New York Fed, Brown explained just how much student debt has defied the current business cycle of the past 10 years. Non-mortgage debt balances, such as debt from auto loans and credit cards, experienced a period of decline during the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession and have how either flatlined or rebounded slowly in recent years. The exception during this time has been student debt balances, which have ballooned from over $300 billion at the end of 2004 to over $1.2 trillion debt today.

Brown concluded that carrying high balances of student debt is likely leading to a growing share of young student borrowers retreating from the housing market and ultimately having to co-reside with their parents.

Pointing to NAR survey data of actual homebuyers and renters, Lautz said even with the numerous obstacles they face, millennials do make up the largest share of buyers among all generations, and over 90 percent of them currently renting have indicated a desire to become homeowners in the future.

“With home prices and rents on the rise, saving for the down payment is a challenge for many would-be buyers,” said Lautz. “Unfortunately, among other factors, repaying student debt is delaying a typical individuals’ path to homeownership by roughly five years.”

The final speaker, Guzman, said that in addition to Congress passing legislation that helps ease borrowers’ debt burden, Realtors® can play a big role by working with their young clients at the beginning stages of their housing needs, particularly during the leasing process when renting their first place.

“Realtors® can be a resourceful advocate for their young clients repaying student debt by educating them about their housing options and pointing them to credible resources, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s information on student debt,” added Guzman. “The urge to be a homeowner is not lost among young adults, and we can all can work together early in the process to make sure they’re able to buy when they’re ready.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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