Sallie Mae, the private student loan lender, and Dee-1, the teacher turned rap star, announced the five winners of the Pays to Repay contest. The contest awarded borrowers who described how paying their student loans had a positive impact on their futures. Sallie Mae paid off the student loans for the five winners who all came from diverse education backgrounds.
“I’ve traveled the country with Sallie Mae educating high school students and handing out scholarships, and now we’ve taken it a step further with this contest to help people feel that joy of paying off their student loans,” said Dee-1 in a press release announcing the winners of the contest.
The winners include Julia Brockway-Marchello of New York City, New York, Haley McIngvale of Pontotoc, Mississippi, Jose Lopez of Corona, California, Cynthia Osemwegie of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Ashley Waltho of Bayside, Wisconsin.
Lopez of California, a second year medical student, is the first person in his family to go on to college. McIngvale of Mississippi will be able to pursue his dream of starting a small business. Waltho is the first female in her family to leave college with a four-year degree. Brockway-Marchello will be able to pursue her medical ambitions without student debt. Osemwegie is the first college graduate in her family, and she is breaking even more ground by pursuing a master’s degree.
The contest isn’t the only way Dee-1 and Sallie Mae are advocating how attending college and paying back loans can improve one’s financial futures. The two have been on the “Dee-1’s Knowledge for College” tour in which Sallie Mae and Dee-1 traveled around the country to award $95,000 in scholarships to high school students from five different states. All told, the two have doled out more than $130,000 in scholarships and loan payoffs.
The main goal is to build awareness about the importance of paying back student debt. After all, student loans are one of the hardest types of debt to get discharged by filing for bankruptcy, and all aspects of a borrower’s’ financial picture are at risk if the loans can’t be paid back.
While the default rate among student loan borrowers is declining, the number of borrowers that are in default now stands at 8.1 million which accounts for roughly 12% of borrowers. Currently, over $1.4 trillion is collectively owed by student and graduate borrowers, and the average student debt per borrower is up to about $28,000.
Many student debt advocacy groups call for answers to the serious problem that is presented by student loan debt. One look at the national debt toll and default rate relays the urgency of the situation, and politicians have certainly taken note of the need for a solution. Various different policies have sprung up in Congress aiming to make college more affordable. The election of 2016 saw many solutions and proposals; some gained rapid popularity among student borrowers.
Senator Warren reintroduced her federal refinancing bill, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. Senator Bernie Sanders put forward his plan for free college. Some efforts involved providing alternatives to federal options such as the ISA solution presented by Senators Rubio and Young which would rely on the private sector for a solution to education debt. Speaking of the private sector, the election also brought on speculation of a complete student loan program overhaul in favor of the private market.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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