Student loans can certainly help you pay for college, but they also come with a long-term commitment. In many cases, borrowers find themselves repaying their loans for decades after graduation.
It’s true: According to recent research, a whopping 60% of student loan borrowers don’t expect to pay off their debts until their 40s, a fact that could effectively hold them back from achieving other life goals — things like buying a house, starting a family, or even just adopting a pet.
This is why it’s critical to limit the amount of debt you take on for school or otherwise and take steps to repay your loans as quickly as possible. For some borrowers, crowdfunding may be able to help in both these cases, giving you cash to put toward school or pay down your loans afterward.
In this article:
- What does it mean to crowdfund my student loans?
- Can I use crowdfunding to pay off my student loans?
- Pros and cons of crowdfunding student loans
- How to set up a crowdfunding campaign to pay off student loans
- Consider companies that focus on this type of repayment
- Alternatives to crowdfunding for student loans
What does it mean to crowdfund my student loans?
Crowdfunding is essentially an online fundraiser that friends, family, and strangers can contribute to. You create a campaign, send out the link to your social circles, and people can contribute as much or as little as they like toward your cause.
Depending on the cause, people may or may not expect something in return. On Kickstarter, for example, donors are rewarded with certain gifts and promotional items, which increase in value the more that’s donated. On other sites like GoFundMe, just keeping your donors apprised of your progress (maybe a picture of that’d paid-in-full statement) is typically enough.
Can I use crowdfunding to pay off my student loans?
Crowdfunding can be a great way to pay off your student loans, especially if you have loved ones you think would like to help. The rules for crowdfunding tend to vary by platform, so make sure you read the fine print before setting up a campaign of your own.
In some cases, you may need to meet a minimum donation amount before you can cash out the funds. In others, you may owe steep fees (or a cut of your donations).
If you do opt to crowdfund your student loans, make sure you’re prepared to put in the work. You’ll want to be thorough in describing your problem (how much you have in debt), as well as why you’re seeking help in paying it off. You should be ready to send out thank-yous and respond to any posts or shares of your campaign as they come in.
Pros and cons of crowdfunding student loans
As with anything, crowdfunding your student loans can have both advantages and drawbacks. Here are just a few of the ones you’ll want to consider:
- You can easily raise funds: It’s a great way to tap your network and leverage it to pay off those debts.
- You don’t have to pay it back: Unlike those loans, you won’t have to pay your donors or back or get charged interest.
- You’ll have experience setting up a campaign: This can be a great skill to put on your resume or pitch when looking for a job.
- You can free up cash: After you’ve paid off your loans, you’ll have added cash flow, which you can put toward other debts you may be dealing with.
- It’s work: Setting up a great campaign, marketing it, and interacting with your donors will take some effort.
- There’s no guarantee: You may not get the funds you’re seeking, which would mean wasted time on your part.
- You may have to share in your donations: Depending on which platform you use, you may need to share in your contributions or pay a fee.
How to set up a crowdfunding campaign to pay off student loans
Setting up a crowdfunding campaign for your student loans isn’t too tricky. Here’s the general process you’ll want to follow.
- Determine your goal
- Pick what platform you’ll see
- Create your campaign
- Share and promote
- Thank and acknowledge
- Payout and pay off
Step 1: Determine your goal
Will you aim to have all your debts paid off or just put a dent in them? Set a monetary amount you want to raise, and make sure it’s realistic. Some platforms won’t give you the money until you meet your goal, so setting the bar too high could come back to haunt you.
Step 2: Pick what platform you’ll use
There are loads of crowdfunding platforms out there, specifically for student loan repayment and others for more general causes. When comparing your options, make sure to look at things like:
- Fees or commissions (How much does it cost?)
- Payout process (Do you get paid directly, or does your lender? Do you have to meet your goal?)
- Shareability (How easy does the platform make it to publicize your campaign?)
- Mobile app (Can donors contribute via their phones and on the go?)
Step 3: Create your campaign
When you’ve finally picked a platform, it’s time to create and launch your campaign. You’ll need a name for your fundraiser, a thorough description, and a few personal touches — like photos or videos. You can also consider including incentives for your donors (maybe you promise to donate X hours to a local charity if you make your goal).
Step 4: Share and promote
Next, it’s time to get the word out. Share your campaign on all your social media accounts, and encourage your loved ones and friends to do the same.
You should plan to reshare your campaign at least once a week until you reach your goal. Just be careful about posting too often (it may seem like begging). When you share, make sure to include details like how close you are to reaching your goal, how grateful you are to those who already donated, etc.
Step 5: Thank and acknowledge
Take time to thank each donor as they contribute to your campaign, and if anyone posts to your page, asks a question, or just cheers on your progress, be sure to respond quickly and graciously. The more donors know how life-changing their contributions are, the more you’ll likely raise.
Step 6: Payout and pay off
Once your campaign has come to a close, you can take your payout and put it straight toward your student loans. Be sure to post an update to your campaign page once you’ve done so (and to your social media). Your donors will be excited to see their contributions in action.
Consider companies that focus on this type of repayment
There are a few crowdfunding platforms that focus specifically on student loan repayment and educational costs.
Some of these include:
- LoanGifting: LoanGifting is technically a “gift registry,” but is essentially a crowdfunding platform designed to help borrowers pay off debts — specifically, student loans.
- GiftofCollege: GiftofCollege is similar, though it allows loved ones to contribute directly to your student loan account (or 529 savings plan if you have one).
There used to be other companies that offered these services, like PeduL and Loanable, but both shifted their business models away from crowdfunding.
You can always use a general crowdfunding site like GoFundMe, MyCause, or Kickstarter for your campaign, too.
Alternatives to crowdfunding for student loans
Even if you opt for crowdfunding to pay off student loans, there’s no guarantee it will be successful, so make sure you have a backup plan just in case. If you’re struggling to make payments, talk to your student loan servicer about switching repayment plans, applying for deferment or forbearance, or refinancing your loans. This could help reduce your interest rates and monthly payment.
If crowdfunding your student loans doesn’t sound like the right option for you, check out our guide to student loan repayment to see how else you can handle paying back your debt.