7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt

By Andrea Cannon on 15 December 2016 2 comments

Many Millennials are wracked with student loan debt and don't see a way out anytime soon. Fortunately, there are some unique opportunities available to you — both while you are in school and after you graduate — that can help you deal with this obligation. (See also: Why You Shouldn't Panic About Your Federal Student Loans)

According to Debt.org, student loans account for over $1 trillion in debt in America, and among those who borrow, the average debt load is about $30,000. However, with the right plan of action, you can tackle this debt in less time and with a smaller overall effect on your life and financial well-being.

See also: Which Student Loan Repayment Plan Saves You the Most?

1. Take Advantage of Income Share Agreements

Purdue University was the first to offer such a program (theirs is called "Back a Boiler"), which provides funding to students who are willing to repay the foundation a portion of their salaries for up to10 years following graduation. These are often referred to as Income Share Agreements or ISAs.

With an Income Share Agreement, there is less risk for the student because payments are based on a percentage of your income. (If you earn less, you pay less; when your income increases, you pay more, up to a defined maximum.) Conversely, with a traditional loan, there is a set loan repayment amount that you must find a way to pay every month, even if you don't have a job (although you may be eligible for a variety of deferments or other payment plans; check with your lender).

See also: The Definitive Guide to Pay As You Earn

2. Find an Investor

Some schools offer programs where an "investor" buys "shares" in a student's future. This is similar to an ISA, but can also be agreed upon privately. If the student does well financially after graduation, then the investor profits, but the student may end up paying even more than they would have on a private loan. On the other hand, if the student doesn't make much money during the repayment period, then the investor loses. As an added bonus, by selling stock in themselves, students may have even more motivation to do well after graduation. (See also: Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans)

3. Plug Your Venmo Account

Once you've opened a Venmo account, you can begin accepting payments from friends, family members, and concerned strangers who want to help you pay off your student loan. Ask for money to be deposited into your Venmo account for your birthday, graduation present, and during the holidays. Loved ones may be willing to contribute even more if they know the money is going toward your student loan.

You can share your Venmo account via email or social media. Better yet, you can even make signs with your Venmo account on them, which you can hold in front of the camera at large events or in the background of your favorite news shows. There have been two successful instances where someone holding a sign with their Venmo account received more than $20,000 in payments from amused viewers. While these feats pulled in 2013 and 2016 weren't for noble purposes, it just goes to show that this quick stunt can really pay off.

4. Volunteer More

With organizations like SponsorChange and Zerobound, you can volunteer your time and skills to meaningful organizations and your student loans will also reap the benefits. While you accumulate good karma from volunteering your time, the organizations will contribute toward your student loan debt as repayment. Organizations like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps also offer partial loan cancellation incentives to volunteers. 

5. Find the Right Employer

More companies are now offering student loan payoff programs as a perk to new employees. This is becoming especially common with new startups. When you are meeting with a potential employer, you may want to ask if their benefits program offers student loan repayment options.

6. Consider Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

There are various student loan forgiveness programs available, but only to select people. While most borrowers won't qualify for these programs, it is worth looking into.

For instance, with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, people working in public service can have their loans forgiven after 10 years of payment. There are also income-driven repayment plans, which can forgive your loans after 20—25 years of repayment. You may also qualify for special federal student loan forgiveness programs if you work in low-income schools or in public service jobs, such as for a nonprofit or the government.

7. Explore Traditional Methods

Traditional means of student loan repayment are always a great option. Debt refinancing or debt consolidation can help lower the interest you pay in the long-run. You can also take advantage of automatic debt payments, make payments twice per month, or trim your budget so there's more left over for repayment. These methods will all help you to pay off your student loan faster and can save you a great deal of money in the long-run. (See also: 15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster)

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Jonathan Dyer

These are clever and very interesting. The investor aspect is particularly intriguing. Are there platforms for this?

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Rod J Rogers

My neighbor started an office cleaning business and earns a extra $1000.00 a month which she pays on her student loans.