She’s putting all her eggs in one basket – and paying off her loans.
New Yorker Kassandra Jones sold her frozen eggs for $50,000, so she could put the cash towards her $167,000 mountain of student debt. The 28-year-old told The Post she underwent five rounds of egg donations in a last-ditch effort to pay off her loans.
Despite working three jobs while earning her undergraduate degree — and living rent-free at her parent’s house — she was still $25,000 in the hole after four years. Then, when she decided to earn her master’s degree in public health, she tacked on another $40,000 per each additional year of education at New York University.
But with “really no other options” — she only had one month to figure out a financial plan.
“I saw it as one of the only ways to be able to have any kind of money at all,” Jones told the Post. “I’ve done everything I possibly could including donate my eggs, and powered through and found resiliency to keep going and try to achieve, and have achieved, what society has always told me I needed to do to be successful.”
She exhausted every other avenue, she said, including commuting from home in California during undergraduate, taking out the maximum student loans allowed, selling her car, going to community college and she was even in an early college program in high school.
She, she was left with $167,000 in loans to pay off.
“I wish that wasn’t just for my tuition,” Jones told Jam Press. “I wish that money was for a downpayment for a house or to kickstart my own business.”
Meanwhile, as her accumulating debt kept her up at night, a friend first suggested donating her eggs for money. Another pal said she had made four months worth of wages in mere weeks from egg donations alone, convincing Jones, then 23, to dive in.
She completed her first round of donations back home in California for $8,000 before moving to New York, where she donated the rest of her eggs at the NYU Langone Fertility Center for $10,000 each time.
After five rounds of egg donation, she’s barely made a dent in her overall debt. “The projected repayments [for the school loans] are $2,000 a month for the next minimum 10 years of my life,” Jones said.
“Hearing that number out loud every single time almost makes me catch my breath,” she continued. “When you’re desperate to figure things out as a young adult, and you have this crushing amount of debt from the education system, it puts you between a rock and a hard place.”
But donating eggs isn’t as easy as it might seem. Jones learned to give herself hormone injections, calling the process “labor intensive.” (Some studies have shown an increased risk of developing breast cancer in young donors who undergo ovarian stimulation).
In fact, the first time she donated she woke up in “pretty excruciating pain,” despite having to start school right away.
“I actually showed up to orientation for NYU on painkillers two days after I donated,” Jones told The Post. “Even though they say that you can go back to normal activity – not strenuous but normal activity – within a day or so, I don’t believe that.”
“There was a ton of pressure and swelling in my lower abdomen, pain from cramping that made it difficult to walk, stand up, sit down or laugh,” she continued.
The feeling, which she described as “discomfort,” was worsened by eating or drinking too much, and caused her to have cravings, tender breasts, dehydration and sex drive changes.
After two times, the subsequent donations began to have longer-lasting side effects.
“I felt like my body wasn’t able to recover in the same way,” she said, even noting that she’s convinced she has long-term hormonal imbalances and scar tissue, despite not seeing a specialist for it yet.
“I struggle with sleep now, digestive issues, weight loss [and] gain, mood,” she said. “Just things that weren’t very obvious before I started doing this now I feel like have become a bit of a problem.”
Jones’ unconventional solution to her crippling debt has raised some eyebrows, but she said people her age “get it.”
“The biggest misconception about debt is that we made this decision, and so we should somehow live with it, but what choices were we really offered to secure our futures?” she said. “People my age get it. They completely empathize with the situation and are just as pissed at how our education system and government has failed us.”
Even with a master’s degree, Jones was only able to secure a part-time paid internship post-graduation when the COVID-19 pandemic first started.
“They took six to seven months to bring me on full time through a pandemic, so I was denied health insurance,” she said, which made paying off her interest-accumulated loans more difficult.
“The money that I was making with the work and the part time internship, or just not finding work with a master’s degree for eight months, was only barely enough to pay my bills,” she said. “So I knew that some other form of repayment had to be created, had to be done, in order to even try to make a dent in those loans.”
Jones isn’t the only one struggling with student debt. The average student loan debt in the United States rings in at $57,520, according to NerdWallet, with the grand total coming to $1.75 trillion.
“Older generations have no idea what this feels like with the new circumstances we have to endure,” she said. “In the ’70s and ’80s, tuition and fees plus room and board at a four-year college were $1,400. Now it’s an average of $22,000, which is still considered low for most students.”
Minimum wage, she continued, “only grew from $1.50 to $7.25, or 350%,” while higher education costs had a “1,400% increase.”
“To even have a chance to afford tuition without debt while in school, we would have to work 40 to 50 hours a week with whatever wages you can get without a degree and then somehow pull off being a full-time student and find the time to, I guess, sleep?” she said. “Generations who also currently hold top-tier positions now and worked their way up don’t have the same qualifying entry points either.”
Jones said people over 40 are “dismissive and aggressive” toward her generation — but she argued that bachelor’s degrees simply aren’t enough to get higher-paying roles.
“We actually are working even harder than they did with very little to no reward to speak for it, and I think that is why our adaptations and priorities have shifted as a result,” she said.