Tackling Student Loan Debt
A large, annoying and exponentially growing problem preventing students from finding financial freedom... that we're working to solve.
Over the last 30 years, higher education costs have increased by over 1400% while median income has only increased by 213%. As a result, student loan debt has skyrocketed to over $1.7 trillion as of 2021.

Core Problems

    Dramatically increasing cost of higher education
    Crippling accumulation of student loan debt for more than 45 million students
    Limited and unsustainable current solutions

Limitation of Current Solutions

Current and Future Loan Forgiveness and Rate Reduction:

The Elephant in the Room

Everyone on the core team has personal experience with student loans.
As we started talking about it on discord, reading articles and secondary research, and asking our friends and family to share their story with us, a theme emerged: Student loan debt is the big elephant in the room. And (almost) everyone in the United States that has a degree, relates to this shared story of personal debt.
Most people that earned a degree from a college or university had to take out student loans. And 45 million students today in the United States have student loan debt in public and private loans totaling nearly $2 trillion. One reason for this is the rising cost of getting a higher education. In fact, over the last 30 years, tuition has increased by more than 1400 percent; outpacing household income gains by seven times.
    Less than 0.3% (96 out of 28,000) students that applied for loan forgiveness since 2017 have actually had their student loans discharged
    Even with the current US executive order/debated legislation for loan forgiveness, this would be a 1-time act or temporary band-aid that does not address the future generations of debt or those looking to retrain/reskill/upskill
    Rate reduction and debt consolidation options only reduce the potential interest charged over time whereas the underlining large balances remain and student loans are not forgiven even during a bankruptcy filing.
    Parent savings options: Very limited options (ex. US 529 savings) with low yield when saving for your child’s education
    Alternative technical certifications limited to specific acceptance at highly competitive S&P500 tech companies
We kept coming back to the elephant in our own story... we decided to call this shared story that we don't really talk about, 'Penny.'


Every month, Penny gently nudges you, keeping you up at night, a reminder of your student loan debt.
    Lower quality of life and inability to pursue personal interests or focus on addressing large global issues
    Vicious cycle of debt and resulting survival mode.
    Widening wealth and knowledge inequality gap reenforcing systematic inequalities.

PennyDAO Insights

When we did ask about Penny, we got answers: Debt cycles, unfair advantages, a "tough way to start life," and "having to live life in survival mode."
PennyDAO surveyed 25 current students and graduates to understand how student debt has impacted their life and prevents them from achieving financial freedom. Our research wasn't exhaustive but their voices provided empathy and understanding of the problem.

We were shocked to discover that not everyone can even get access to student loans.

Could an innovative platform that harnesses the infinite compassion of our community solve student loan debt for even one student? And if so, how could we replicate that for many, many more.
    84.2% of the students we interviewed had to take out loans to pay for college
    Majors ranged from computer science and business administration to education, nursing, and early childhood development
    Total amount borrowed from $4,000-$150,000
    About 3/5 of the principal borrowed still remains to be paid off
    Average monthly payment is around $325

Key insights

    Students generally felt like student loan debt was a 'tough life start.'
    The number one word used by students to describe how they'd feel when they paid off their student loan debt: 'Relieved'
    New ways forward must be grounded in personal responsibility
      “I’m concerned that others would not faithfully do their part.” - Kim, W. Washington Univ., Education
      On a scale of 1 to 10, students we asked are extremely confident (avg. 9) that they’ll pay off their student loan
    Students would welcome new contributors to paying down debt
      “I would be interested in finding and sharing resources” - Meghan, UCI ’21, Business
Last modified 5mo ago