Cents and Sensibility

Fighting Your Student Loan Debt with Zero Bound

Debt is gross. Student loan debt is even more gross because of its overwhelming volume and the difficulty of paying it off when you are just beginning your career. It’s hard when you’ve secured a degree that cost tens of thousands of dollars, and for some of you, hundreds of thousands, because society tells you that it’s necessary only to be presented a job market that doesn’t have room for you.

Massive student loan debt can make you feel anxious or out of control. But thanks to Zero Bound, there is a new way to manage your student loan debt while acquiring new skills, networking and improving the communities where you work and live.

Zero Bound is a fundraising website launching early next year that takes on the obstacle of paying down your debt and gives it a philanthropic twist. Users create a profile which can include their former field of study, alma mater and career aspirations. They can then ask friends, family and alumni to sponsor them per community service hours. Once the community service hours are completed, Zero Bound transfers the donation straight to the volunteer’s student loan account.

The website is the brain child of Kelli Space and Sabrina Norrie. When Kelli graduated from Northeastern University with $200,000 in debt, she felt overwhelmed at the prospect of paying it off. As a last resort, Kelli started a website called twohundredthou.com through which she gained both generous donations and a side of negative feedback. A few of her critics told her that her website was self-serving. Sabrina, who has had experience with volunteer coordination within nonprofits, saw an opportunity to incorporate the philanthropic aspect while receiving donations or sponsorships toward student loan debt.

Sabrina Norrie and Kelli Space

“We truly feel that there are people out there who want to help new grads in debt, but either feel there isn’t a platform to do so or that they aren’t able to make a financial impact. Zero Bound makes both of those things possible,” Kelli said. “And new grads can feel in control of their debt while helping their community and gaining valuable work-related skills in the process.”

Zero Bound currently has several hundred recipients signed up, with more each day as the word spreads. If you sign up before Oct. 31, 2012 you can enter for a chance to win a $500 student loan payment.

After the site officially launches, Sabrina and Kelli hope to reach more donors through alumni networks and grassroots marketing. You can find more information here.

For those of you mired in student loan debt, Kelli and Sabrina want you to know, “Zero Bound is a game-changer for you and other young professionals. It’s a new pathway to financial freedom. We not only help you reduce your debt, but advance within your career through the many benefits of volunteering: enhancing your resume, developing professional connections and exploring new skills. When you give of yourself, when you opt to give of your skills and education, you live the Zero Bound approach. You are paying it down by paying it forward.”

So if you are looking for a good way to take charge of your student loan debt, sign up for Zero Bound today!

Images provided by Kelli Space and Sabrina Norrie of Zero Bound