With grads now owing, on average, $29,400 upon graduation, student loans continue to be a great burden on our society. And if you’re struggling to find a job in your field or can only get part time work, you may be stressed about how you’ll pay your student loans. One program we’ve recently come across can help with that. SponsorChange.org rewards volunteers with money paid directly toward student loans as a reward for donated time.
How SponsorChange Operates
SponsorChange.org was started by brothers Raymar and Robert Hampshire in 2009 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania to put the power of crowd-funding and microfinance to work to help nonprofits and student loan debtors. That’s a win-win-win in our books. The program recently moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., but has retained a presence in Pittsburgh and expanded to Chicago as well. Currently, SponsorChange only works with graduates in these three cities, but hopes to add an online program as well.
There are three components to the program reflected by their motto: You Serve. They Sponsor. Change Happens. Student loan debtors volunteer at service organizations, private groups and individuals sponsor you by pledging money to the volunteer organization that will be used to help pay your student loans. Non-profits host debtor volunteers and either they or sponsors (or a combination of the two) give money to help the volunteer pay their student loans.
How the Money Gets to Your Loans and How Much You Get
The volunteer engagements are typically project based rather than being open ended and volunteers give 8-10 hours per month, but this can vary. This means you could do this in addition to a part or full-time job to generate extra funds for your student debt. Volunteer gigs pay $10-$20 per volunteer hour. Once the volunteer organization has verified your hours, SponsorChange pays the funds directly to your loan servicer to apply to your loans.
Caveats and Questions
Currently, you must live in Pittsburgh, D.C. or Chicago to participate in SponsorChange. Also, it looks like you should get involved with signing up sponsors to fund your volunteerism if you want to get the best results. This may be off-putting for some people that aren’t comfortable trolling for bucks to benefit themselves. But if you don’t have a problem with this and like to volunteer, this can be a boon to your debt load.
How to Get Involved with Sponsor Change
If you live in one of the SponsorChange cities, go to their website SponsorChange.org and read the information for Change Agents – the moniker they’ve applied to participating volunteer debtors. You can sign up on this page to try and get yourself a volunteer gig to help pay your loans. If you know of an individual or a company that’s looking for a tax deductible opportunity to do good (and help you out), send them to the Sponsor Page to sign up. If you are already volunteering at a non-profit in one of these cities and want to try and convert your gig to one that will churn some student loan assistance, send them to the Nonprofits Page to get info and sign up.