Profitt Report: Flint graduate tackling $93,000 of student loan debt with unique website

Photo credit: MGN

College graduates are feeling the pinch: for 18 years in a row, student loan debt is growing according to the Federal Reserve.

Nationally, our total student loan debt is more $1.3 trillion. About $90,000 of that debt belongs to Katie Curnow of Genesee County, but she’s got a unique 10-year plan to pay it off.

“In the past, it would keep me up at night,” said Curnow, who earned her master’s in English from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Two kids and $93,000 worth of debt will do that, but Curnow isn’t worrying as much as she used to: she’s taking action. First, she works as a marketing coordinator in downtown Flint.

“I am an avid couponer,” she said.

Curnow also works two side jobs and keeps track of every dollar coming in and out of her family’s budget. However, that’s not quite enough to tackle her debt.

She’d seen graduates asking for student loan help on sites like Go Fund Me. She appreciated the enthusiasm but wasn’t comfortable asking for money outright.

“So what I thought is, I can give them thank you’s and it could be anything from I’d be your pen pal to I’d send you a gift in the mail,” Curnow said.

That’s how her site, Katie Thanks You, was born. She’s received a handful of donations and connected with other indebted graduates.

“I have people contacting me who are sharing their story, sharing their debt stories with me. It hurts, it hurts to know other people feel the same way,” she said.

So: what lessons can a graduate with $93,000 in debt teach us? For starters, Curnow didn’t consider how to pay for college until high school was almost over. She say she will do differently with her kids.

“I don't know how much I’ll have for them, just something to say, ‘I’m investing in your education. I believe in you, here's a little bit of something,’” Curnow said.

What’s started as a quirky website, Curnow hopes will launch a broader conversation about student debt in the U.S.

“I’d like to think there's a way to help them through this and at least build a community, I’ve got your back, you've got mine, what do you need? How can I help? That's pretty much my philosophy in life, how can I help?” she said.

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