Student Debt Project Team: “It Gets Smaller”

Charles, Gideon, Luis, Melissa B, Melissa C, and I started off with an interest in the crisis of rising student debt in the United States. After perusing resources and tools for students to figure out how to afford college and plan their financial future, we realized that (1) information on student loans is dispersed across the web and confusing, (2) most calculators are offered by profit-driven platforms, and (3) the convoluted facts about loans and scary numbers of debt and future payments can make users feel isolated instead of part of a community of affected students. Therefore, our first goal was to create a tool that combines basic information and a comprehensive calculator for financial planning with tailored connections to relevant online communities. We hope that our tool can be used both by affected students and by journalists in search of a streamlined way to crowdsource information on the topic and connect with pertinent groups. You can see the tool, the It Gets Smaller website, here.

Our second goal was to use the tool in two journalistic pieces. We proudly present Gideon and Melissa B’s article and Melissa C’s video.

The Student Debt team is looking forward to your feedback!

One thought on “Student Debt Project Team: “It Gets Smaller”

  1. Guys, the tool is really a terrific first step. It looks very professional and clean, and returns very compelling results. I think you need to do some user-testing on the interface. I had a couple of false starts in trying to figure out what to do with it – I’d recommend watching a few users try to use it and modifying based on that.

    I’d love to see a feature that helped you see how you compared to others within your major. The key insight that debt varies greatly per major, and that some are way better positioned to pay off debt loads is hidden at this point, and I think it’s a very compelling part of your narrative.

    I think the feature that attempts to match you with a community is really powerful. I think to indicate that this feature is available, you might use some pull quotes culled from those communities to signal that aspect of the tool.

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