New podcast: Accessing student loan relief now

By Amy Potthast.


Take it from us, kid: it's never too early to start thinking about financing your education. (Philippe Put, Flickr/Creative Commons)

Do you have student loans? Are you thinking about borrowing money for grad school?

The latest episode of the Idealist Grad Schools Podcast takes a closer look at two student debt relief programs established by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. The program requirements can be confusing, so I chatted with Heather Jarvis about a step-by-step approach to understanding both programs.

Why Heather? A former capital defense attorney saddled with $125,000 in law school debt, Heather Jarvis now dedicates her expertise to helping student loan borrowers make better decisions so that higher education can be a reality for all – not just those who can afford it.

Learn more. Just as we were editing this show, President Obama announced changes to the way current and future students can repay student loans. Get the details on Heather’s site. And for all of the links mentioned in these episodes, visit

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at

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Student Loans for All

By Flickr user gabofr (Creative Commons)

Microfinance, a model well known for helping out small business owners throughout the world, is now being applied to student loans.

One such initiative, called Vittana (which I learned about through the TBD newsletter), has a premise like Kiva’s—people anywhere in the world can lend any amount they want ($25 is suggested) to the recipient of their choice, and the loan recipient eventually pays back the interest-free loan in full. In the case of Vittana, all of the loan recipients are students, studying a range of subjects from English to law to accounting. Right now, the students are all in Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru, where Vittana works with local microlending organizations to select loan recipients and distribute funds.

Another site, UniThrive, is experimenting with the microlending model at Harvard University, where they’ve set up a system for alumni to lend to students, interest-free. And if alumni wish to go beyond financial investment, they can choose to offer career advice and other forms of assistance to students. UniThrive hopes to expand to other schools soon, after its trial period at Harvard.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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