Arizona State University partners with PayPal and education nonprofit to help students lower college debt

Arizona State University partners with PayPal and nonprofit to help students lower financial debt. (Photo by Alexis Dominguez/Cronkite News)

Arizona State University has teamed up with PayPal and a nonprofit, Education at Work, to help students gain real-world experience and lower financial debt.

Students can earn up to $6,000 of tax-free tuition assistance as well as an hourly rate of $9 with room to advance, according to Education at Work.

“This is a unique innovative partnership because students will start with earning a competitive wage and they will also learn skills that will help them be successful,” said Anita Verdugo Tarango, ASU director of outreach partnerships.

Dave Dougherty, chief executive and founder of Education at Work, said the nonprofit began the program to put a dent in student debt.

“Through this partnership ASU students will reduce their student loan debt and build skills that 21st century employers need, such as teamwork, collaboration, and problem solving,” Dougherty said.

Students will work in a PayPal call center in the University Center on the Tempe campus. Verdugo said the goal is to hire as many as 400 ASU students at ASU by the time the fall semester starts in August.

Nearly 70,000 students are enrolled at the university.

ASU freshman Jeremy Farina, a business-communication student, said he heard about the program through an ASU email.

Farina said he accepted student loans this year and is expecting to be in debt about $10,000 after he graduates.

“I think it would definitely be something I’d consider. I mean, nine bucks an hour is a pretty solid wage,” Farina said.

Most jobs are customer service positions where employees will respond to PayPal customers’ social media and email questions. PayPal, founded in 1998, is a service where customers can use PayPal as an online payment system to businesses.

According to Education at Work’s website, the program has served students attending the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Mount St. Joseph University, and Northern Kentucky University.

ASU is the first university outside Ohio to partner with PayPal and Education at Work. PayPal plans to hire more students at ASU and expand nationally to other universities.

Verdugo said ASU chose to partner with Education at Work because they have similar missions.

“We’re both focused on student success and in addition to that one of the big points of Education at Work is they want to reduce student debt,” said Verdugo.

ASU students interested in the program can apply online on the Education at Work website.