Sara Routhier, Managing Editor of Features and Outreach, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming worl...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 26, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident loan decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one loan provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about loans. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything loan related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

The $1 trillion dollar national student loan debt figure is perhaps the most important thing on the minds of many young Americans who are either attending college or recently graduated. Unfortunately for current college students and recent graduates, the job market remains weak. This prevents many recent graduates from working and paying off their student loans. With few ways to afford an education or pay off the debt it took to obtain an education many young people have become desperate for money. In a display of American ingenuity, innovation, and even desperation, many young borrowers are subjecting themselves to anything and everything in order to help pay off their student loan debt.

Take for example John McKinley-Campbell, an unemployed graduated who hoped to get his doctorate at Florida International University (FIU). According to a CNN story, he chose to become a paid participant in medical studies. In other words, he willingly opted to become a “lab rat.” He lived in a medical facility for two weeks then later received experimental injections. These two medical studies earned him about $8,500 which he intends to use to pay for a GRE preparation class, the GRE test fee, and the FIU’s application fee. Anything left over he hopes to put towards room, board, and tuition if he gets accepted.

“If I can’t find work [while in school], there’s always a headache medicine I could test,” he told CNN, quickly summing up the best solution he’s found to combat his college debt.

While John McKinley-Campbell is to be commended for his initiative in paying for his college degree, his plight and the measures he is forced to take speak volumes to the high costs of obtaining a college education and avoiding student loan debt.

High costs or not, other young adults are joining Campbell in pioneering new and innovative payment methods to reduce their student loan debt.

Norah, a young woman who refused to reveal her last name in a CNN report, earned $6,500 for donating her eggs. That amount will cover almost her full first year of college, saving her a large amount of money that she otherwise would have had to borrow causing her to build up student loan debt. A few more donations and she will have enough money to afford the rest of her program of choice—nearly $15,000.

“When I worked a second job [between college and graduate school], it took me almost a year working in retail to make this same amount I’ve already made from one egg donation,” she said.

Similarly, a sperm donor in California claims he earned $2,600 from making sperm donations over the last year. California Cryobank, a nationally operating sperm bank has literally been “banking” on young adults—half of which account for all of its sperm donations. According to the CNN report, sperm donors that donate three times a week can expect to make up to $14,400 in a year.

Unfortunately, there are students and young adults who are forced to turn to far seedier measures than those found in the medical establishment in order to either pay off or avoid acquiring student loan debt.

Some students and borrowers have turned to selling their time and bodies to “sugar daddies” who offer payments for their “company.” Such is the fate of Taylor, a 22-year old female student who met a benefactor that paid her monthly student loan debt after meeting online and spending time together in his bedroom.

“I never thought it would come to this. I got on the train and I felt dirty. I mean, I had just gotten money for having sex. I guess I accomplished what I needed to do. I needed the money for school. I just did what needed to be done,” she said as she confessed her utter self-loathing and disgust at her desperation.

While it is regrettable that some students must offer their bodies in exchange for the chance to afford an education, some students have found more inventive ways to afford college that do not require biological donations or sexual favors.

Jonathan Hood, a doctoral student at Auburn University has been using prepaid debit cards from rebates to pay for his college tuition preventing him from building up student loan debt.

“Tuition for this semester was $4,500. I paid over $2,500 of it with prepaid debit cards [from rebates] and a little over $1,000 of it with rebate checks,” he said in a Yahoo Finance interview.

Hood has perfected his rebate skill to a veritable science by developing a computer program that tracks rebates and alerts him when they are past due. In fact, Hood has already begun stockpiling funds for next year’s tuition and expenses.

“Currently, [the fund] has $160 in it, but it will probably grow quite a bit in the next couple of days. I’m expecting about $600 more in rebates,” he said.

As the national student loan debt no doubt continues to climb higher and as the job market remains dry, Americans should take some small comfort in the fact our nation’s youth have found innovative—if controversial—ways in which they can pay off or avoid building up student loan debt. No doubt, once the stormy skies of the dismal economy clear, this same type of American ingenuity will reignite the engine of our nation’s progress.