Jun 13

Press Release: Artist is crushing student loan debt with t-shirts and coffee mugs

Salem, OR,  June 12, 2013.

With student loan debt passing $1 trillion dollars, one doctoral graduate is taking an unusual approach to paying off her debt. Dr. Althea Rizzo, a 2010 Ph.D. graduate from Oregon State University, is selling her graphic designs on apparel and gift items at Cafepress.com to pay down her student debt. Starting tomorrow, she is in a race with Congress, who doesn’t seem inclined to move forward on legislation to curb the impending rise in interest rates. She has over $100,000 in federal and private loans and currently pays about $1400 per month.

Like many other students graduating with crushing student debt, it was difficult to save up money for emergencies. Then Dr. Rizzo’s car died, the clothes dryer motor seized up, and her daughter broke her thumb last week. After that, Dr. Rizzo decided to take matters into her own hands to find a creative solution to the financial dilemma.

“On the other hand, I like to think of myself as resourceful,” said Dr. Rizzo.  “For the last few years, I have been selling t-shirts and other apparel and gift items on Cafepress.com/malarkeypie. This has been a slowly growing endeavor, providing a bit of pin money each month, but never really breaking into the realm of real money. My background in graphic design and my intensely snarky sense of humor combine to create fun and irreverent designs to paste across your chest.”

These unfortunate circumstances spurred her to pay down her student loan debt faster.  Something had to be done and she ramped up her graphic design business. Her goal is to sell 50,000 items before Congress raises the interest rate on federal subsidized student loans in July, 2013.

“Will it be hard? Sure, but if 50,000 people buy just one thing each, that’s only 0.014285714285714287% of the U.S. population. That’s totally doable.”

Dr. Rizzo is an employee of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, where she heads the Geologic Hazards Program. She created a Café Press shop to cater to those who are interested in progressive politics, science, and general geekery at www.cafepress.com/malarkeypie. She blogs at www.alfalfapress.com.