According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, college graduates owe more than a trillion dollars in student loan debt. In fact, out of the roughly 20 million college students, around 12 million — 60 percent — have to take out new loans every year in order to cover their college expenses.
With numbers like these it is no surprise that student loan debt is a pertinent issue among current collegiates and recent graduates, and it was with these people in mind that Carrie Conner created StudentLoanWriteOff.com.
“We help students eliminate their student loan debt before they graduate, as well as help students find scholarships,” Conner said. “We focus on people who don’t have enough financial aid, that don’t have enough tuition assistance, as well as those with student loan debt.”
Connor, the CEO and co-founder of StudentLoanWriteOff.com, said their target market is high school students, college students and those who have already graduated.
“We offer students a chance to win a scholarship every month, which is up to $5,000, or they can choose the opportunity to get up to $10,000 to pay off their student loans,” Connor said.
Students are chosen monthly via a writing contest.
“The writing contest is very simple,” Connor said. “It is a 500 word or less essay based on a question or topic that is online. From there members of the site choose the essay winner and they win the money.”
Only members who pay the $48 annual fee are allowed to submit entries and cast votes. The company also offers 12 free classes that cover subjects ranging from finance and budgeting to writing tutorials.
“I feel that education is so important, and if your money limits you in getting an education; it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one,” Connor said. “There should be other opportunities and other ways for students to finance their education. Not everyone wins a scholarship, but at least we can help some students.”
Connor said she got the idea for the startup while studying in Shanghai, China.
“I studied abroad in Asia for about six months,” Connor said. “The opportunity to do that was very expensive, and I had to take out a lot of money in student loan debt.”
The other co-founder, Patricia McNair, is a local teacher who obtained a significant amount of student loan debt while going back to school and raising her children. Now she wants to give back to the community.
“She owes a lot of money back to the government, but it was all for the benefit of her trying to provide as a single mom, and getting an education so she could make a better life for her two children,” Connor said.
Connor encourages students to sign up for the site before March 5 in order to enter an “Educational Giveaway” that includes a laptop, an iPad and an HP all-in-one printer.