Can you imagine what it would feel like to have your student loan debt disappear because you got some trivia questions right?
Some student loan borrowers had this dream come true when they took part in a new game show called “Paid Off.”
The show, devised by actor-comedian Michael Torpey, debuts at 10 p.m. ET July 10 on cable television channel truTV. The initial 16 episodes will feature contestants with student debt who win money toward loan repayment.
While the show features humor and takes a lighthearted approach, it also has a serious purpose of raising awareness of the student debt crisis.
‘Paid Off’ pays off a fortune in student loan debt
“Paid Off” was designed to appeal to young truTV viewers, and contestants were carefully chosen for their stories of being stuck in debt despite doing everything right, a topic likely to resonate with people in their 20s and 30s.
The show follows the format of traditional TV game shows, but with a funny or educational twist. Some questions are college-related, while others are just plain fun, such as sorting which nicknamed characters are from the mafia film “Goodfellas” and which are from the children’s show “Thomas & Friends.” Celebrities in silly outfits also make surprise guest appearances to pose questions.
The number of correct questions determines how much each contest wins, with the maximum prize equal to 100% of the value of their loans.
In the initial slate of episodes, the contestants collectively received close to $500,000 to repay their loans, with one contestant winning $60,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. Every participant walked away with some money, with third-place finishers getting $1,000.
While show producers had wanted to pay off loan balances directly, logistics made this impossible, so winners are awarded money intended to be used to repay loans, according to The Washington Post.
A show with a higher purpose
Quirky TV game shows are nothing new, and, indeed, the “Paid Off” team includes a veteran of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
What sets the show apart is that it was developed in consultation with Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, a nonprofit aimed at changing policies on student loans. Serious issues are raised amid the fun atmosphere, including a “super depressing fact of the week” about student loan debt in each episode, according to The Post.
Contestants also have more “camaraderie” with each other, Leslie Goldman, truTV senior vice president of development and original programming, told the AJC.
“Everyone is in the same boat,” she said, according to the AJC. “They all have this debt.”
Torpey was reportedly inspired to create the show after seeing the struggles his wife faced repaying debt from her undergraduate and graduate degrees.
He helped her pay off what she owed by booking an ad to sell underwear, and saw how emotional it was for her to free herself of the $40,000 debt burden.
“I know what we are doing is a little ridiculous,” Torpey told The Post. “But in a way, the show matched my family’s story. The only way we could pay off student loans was because I booked an underpants ad? That’s insane.”
The Post reported that Torpey pitched the show to truTV, which felt the concept would resonate because student debt is holding back so many young viewers from life milestones such as homeownership and even marriage. More than 44 million borrowers owe $1.48 trillion in student loan debt.
You can still tackle your student debt even if you don’t win a game show
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to land an underwear ad or find ourselves featured on “Paid Off,” but repaying student loan debt still needs to happen. The good news is, there are tools to help, including:
- Income-driven repayment programs that cap payments at a percentage of income and can result in some debt being forgiven
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows debt to be forgiven after 120 qualifying payments if you work in an eligible public service job
- Student loan refinancing, which could reduce your interest rate and lower your monthly payments
You can also keep tabs on legislation that affects student loan borrowers and make your voice heard by voting or contacting your representatives.
The main image is from the official “Paid Off” site on truTV.com.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.54% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.54% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.67% – 8.96%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.23% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.43%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|