We’re always excited to deliver news of how you can get out of student loan debt faster and more affordably. Today we look at a program that began in 2011 in a limited geographical area, but that’s launching a much larger program now. That program is Zero Bound – founded in 2011 by Sabrina Norrie – with the apt and clever tagline, “You are not a loan.” You can check out their new site starting today, but here’s a little info about their program to whet your debt-vanquishing appetite.
Norrie says the concept behind Zero Bound is “paying it down by paying it forward,” and to do this, they encourage volunteerism with organizations in skilled positions that essentially equate to paid volunteer time through crowdfunding. The money for their hours goes straight toward their loan debt so the organizations get skilled warm bodies doing good on their behalf and the volunteers get to do good and see their debt diminish. This is a win for those in debt, as well as the community.
Zero Bound has a five step process to participate and benefit:
#1 Sign up and pledge and volunteer
#2 Spread the word to contacts
#3 Receive donations for every volunteer hour
#4 Volunteer in the community
#5 Zero Bound transfers donation to loan company
Founder Norrie knows a little bit about debt since she graduated with almost $27,000 in student loans herself. She says, “As I was sitting at my desk, I was thinking there has to be a way to be creative about student loan debt, and the path out of student loan debt. The essence of this is the student base. We see 38 million Americans in debt, and the $1 trillion of education and skills they represent. We want to reinvest some of that into the community.”
Essentially, both your debt, volunteer opportunities and funds raised are in your hands. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and Zero Bound won’t eliminate your debts for you, but instead provides a platform so that you can put in the time and effort to work toward paying them down. If you are already volunteering, you can simply move that to their program or look for a new opportunity if you’re not involved in your community now.
Like with Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you set up a campaign to fund your volunteer work for a certain period and with a fundraising goal. You encourage your network of contacts, family, friends and the community to kick in funds while you are volunteering and for a future period of time. Zero Bound will also help find you sponsors for your efforts. Once you complete the committed-to work, Zero Bound will transfer the funds directly to your student loan servicer.
What’s great about this is that you can work full time at your regular job and set up volunteerism activity for your off hours to help you pay off your debt double-fast. And if you’re struggling and getting by on part-time work, you can make the most of your downtime and put in some serious volunteer hours. The downside is that Zero Bound is yet unproven as a nationwide platform. It’s been in place in a limited capacity for the past few years and their Indiegogo campaign didn’t produce near the results they needed.
But it looks like it’s worth a try – any debt you can volunteer away is great – and volunteering in your community (or anywhere since Zero Bound doesn’t limit where you can live or work) is a win for all involved. You can check them out on Twitter here and if you’re serious about doing good to deal with your debt, also check out our recent blog on a similar organization – Sponsor Change.
To keep track of all your student loans, sign up for Tuition.io’s free student loan tool and if you do work with a volunteer organization to tackle some (or a bunch) of your debt, you can track the donations toward your loans to ensure you’re getting proper credit for your work.