In How I Paid It Off, Bustle's asking real readers about the, uh, unconventional ways they paid off their student loans. Here, Sarah, 28, tells us about how she paid off over $20,000 in two years by donating her eggs.
Tell me about yourself. What do you do? How did college help you get there?
I studied public relations at Central Michigan University, but I didn’t love the typical PR career and bounced around jobs a lot after I graduated. I went to grad school a year later; since I had really enjoyed being a resident assistant in undergrad, I thought I could go into higher education, which generally requires a master’s degree.
I was committed to having my loans for the program paid off by the time I graduated, which I was able to do. After my two-year program, I landed a job as an admission counselor with my alma mater, but I pretty quickly fell out of love with that because there was so much red tape. It was difficult to sell an education to high school students knowing full-well the financial repercussions. Now, I’m a shop manager with Nurses Inspire Nurses, a company that designs products to help support nurses, and I am much, much happier. I’m able to be authentic, express my creativity, and work alongside others who give a damn about the work we do.
How much money did you owe in student loans?
I took out about $5,000 in loans for undergrad and about $15,000 for grad school. With interest, it was about $22,000 altogether.
Tell me a bit more about how you first learned about donating your eggs. What made you decide to go through with it?
Like a typical Millennial, I found out about it through Spotify. I heard an egg donation ad soon after I started grad school. You can make $5,000 to $6,000 depending on what clinic you go through. As I learned more about why people need donor eggs, it was really enlightening. I felt like if I had a chance to help a person or a couple grow their family without any harm to myself — well, why not? It was such a no-brainer.
What was donating your eggs like? How many cycles did it take to pay off your debt?
I donated eggs six times total in two years to pay off my debt. My first cycle alone produced 26 eggs, where the average is usually between nine and 15. You take two weeks of hormones per cycle; for me, it was easy and my body responded really well. I got really good at it. The procedure itself for the egg retrieval is 20 minutes total and so simple. They put you under, and then literally you wake up and someone is saying, “Sarah, we put the check by your belongings.” The recovery is nothing — you go home and are fine within hours.
After I donated a few times, I learned that there were other programs in the state that paid more. So before I applied to donate at those, I said to my original clinic, ‘Would you consider paying me ‘x’ because so-and-so is paying $6,000 per cycle.’ And they did. I negotiated my compensation!
All the time, I think about how somewhere in the Midwest there are children who might look like me! It feels so special.
Would you recommend other people donate their eggs to pay off their loans?
I would recommend it all day long. If you feel comfortable with the process, and your doctor’s cleared it, by all means do it. I have shared my story with dozens of women over the years, and a few of them have gone on to apply to do it themselves. My 21-year-old sister recently applied to the same fertility clinic I worked with and if she’s accepted into their program, she could be donating her eggs within a year.
What was the biggest money lesson you learned from paying off your student loans?
Before committing to higher education or any kind of investment that requires a payment plan, make sure you understand how it’ll impact your life. I didn’t do that and I felt so stupid. I had unsubsidized and subsidized loans that I was not planning for, all while having limited income while being a full-time student and working on campus. I have seen how debt impacts people; I saw this with my own parents, who struggled financially. After graduating, I didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot in life right out of the gate: I thought, ‘If I can pay this off and not have it hanging over my head when I graduate without knowing if a job is waiting for me, I will do whatever I have to do to make that happen.’
Let’s say that tomorrow, $10K or $50K of student debt got cancelled. How would you feel?
I’m all for it. I know some people are salty about it, but I could care less. It’s kinda bullsh*t that I had to literally donate my eggs to pay off my education. Leaving college and university with these incredible monthly payments that eat away at your budget for your rent, your groceries — it’s unacceptable. I feel very strongly that education should be free for all. Cancel the debt. It doesn’t make any sense any more. Actually, it never did.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.