SPOKANE, Wash. - Online loan refinancing company Laurel Road was looking to put a positive spin on highlighting the growing student loan debt problem in the United States, when they decided to put together a sweepstakes that would land three lucky winners across the country with $25,000 towards their loans.
"Right now there is more than $1.3 trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt out there," Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Marketing Officer with Laurel Road said, "and 44 million American's have that debt."
She says that the highest its ever been with 70 percent of students graduating with debt.
One of those students and one of the lucky winners of the sweepstakes, is Heather Durbin. Who works, has a family, and has a nursing license from Spokane Community College, a bachelors from Lewis and Clark State College and is currently working on her Masters through Grand Canyon University.
She easily met the $50,000 loan debt requirement laid out by Laurel Road in their sweepstakes.
"Between myself and my husband we are about $75,000," she said.
She says she took a chance and applied for the sweepstakes and completely forgot about it until she got the email notifying her she had been one of the lucky three picked randomly to receive $25,000.
"That is a big chunk," she said. "Its going to be really helpful and will help take some of the load off."
Schaefer said she's thrilled for Durbin and hope it highlights the growing debt problem.
"We need to really do some think about how we price education and much we are asking people to pay for that education," Schaefer said.
She says student loans can be both a blessing and a curse, given that loans make education possible for many who couldn't otherwise afford to pay upfront, but can remain with graduates years after they start working.
"You really need to do your research before you take on debt," she said, "Know what your options will be after school to either make your payments less, to get lower interest rates, or there are also forgiveness programs out there."
She said over 10,000 people applied for the sweepstakes.
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