As a student loan expert, I’ve seen both requests to pay off student loans via Kickstarter accounts and personal pleas from strangers asking me to kick in to help pay off their student loan debt. Both situations, in most cases, won’t work to eliminate your debt. However, crowdsourcing – which is asking others for assistance to help you pay off your debt – can sometimes work.
Try these ways to crowdsource funds to reduce your student loan debt:
Sign Up for Upromise and Invite Family Members to Do So
Upromise is an online rewards program where you sign up and then get money back as a percentage of what you spend. The money is either transferred into a savings account, given to you in the form of a check, or deposited into a savings account, a student loans account, or a 529 plan savings account, which is an investment account specifically used for saving for college. For instance, you might shop online at a store where you get 5% of your purchase price back in Upromise savings. For example, if you spend $50, you’ll get $2.50 back.
All you have to do is start your search for the product or store on the Upromise website. You can also shop offline in specific grocery stores and restaurants. To multiply the savings, you can earn a percentage back on all your purchases with the Upromise credit card. I know people who have earned hundreds per year without spending a dime more than what they would normally spend. Now, for the crowdsourcing part. You can have family members sign up for their own free account, and they can request that the money be forwarded to you. Parents and grandparents who wanted to help more with your college education but couldn’t now have an opportunity to do so without spending any more than they would have anyway.
Mention Gift of College on Your Social Media Accounts
Gift of College is a company that produces both online and physical gift cards for repaying student loans and funding 529 plan savings accounts. The cards can be used to pay Sallie Mae and several other private loan lenders as well as your federal student loans. If you have one of these loans, mention the gift cards on your social media. You don’t even have to tell anyone you want one. Just post the link with a note that you thought it was a neat idea for a holiday gift. Your friends with kids will appreciate it, and your friends who don’t want to ask their parents directly will appreciate it, too.
Ask for Student Loan Funding for the Holidays
When your parents ask you what you’d like for the holidays, ask them to purchase a Gift of College gift card. You can also ask that they sign up for Upromise and put you as the beneficiary of the account. If you don’t want to ask for cash or a gift card, ask for something you really need that was in your budget for December anyway. That way, when you consider that the money you’re saving on expenses can be put toward student loan payments instead, they’re still essentially giving you money toward your student loans.
Don’t Forget to Enlist the Federal Government
Income-driven repayment plans generally have an element of forgiveness at the end of the payment term. For instance, whatever you owe at the end of 20 years may be forgiven. If you work for a public service employer, as over one in four Americans do, you may qualify for public service loan forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what job you have – you could work in marketing for a school or a hospital. If you think you might possibly qualify for public service loan forgiveness, fill out the employment certification form. One hour of time filling out a form could save you thousands of dollars. You don’t have to fill out the form immediately, but it’s best to fill out the form as soon as possible to determine if you qualify. Otherwise, you may think your loans will be forgiven when they actually won’t.
On the other hand, keep an eye on paying interest on your student loans if you could qualify for any forgiveness. Every dime you pay early is a dime that could have been forgiven. Redirect the money toward paying off credit cards or private student loans instead.
Whether or not you qualify for some kind of student loan forgiveness, you more than likely qualify for the student loan interest deduction on your federal taxes. This deduction can be worth up to $625 annually.
Don’t count on strangers to repay your student debt. However, through these methods, you may be able to get help from your family or even the government.
Have you tried crowdsourcing your student loan payments? What tips do you have? Be sure to share them in the comments below.
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