From mounting political tension and global pandemics to environmental crisis and the risk of recession, it's no wonder the majority of Gen Z reports feeling constantly stressed out. Add on the overwhelming burden of student debt, and that anxiety manifests in every area of our lives — including on our faces.
"It’s on the minds of so many people every single day. The cost of education has risen exponentially faster than wages, and the ways in which interest and loans are structured are not favorable for students," First Aid Beauty Founder and CEO, Lilli Gordon, tells Refinery29. "We are so proud to make a commitment toward impacting the futures of deserving college graduates and give them the freedom to pursue their dreams free from the crushing impact of loans."
To start, the brand is committing a base sum of $1 million, with an additional 10 percent from the retail sales of each limited-edition Fab Aid Ultra Repair Cream and travel sets. Students who graduated from an accredited four-year undergraduate university between January 2018 and August 2020 can fill out an application at FABAID.com — which includes a video submission — from February 28 to August 31. The winners will be announced by November 10, and they will receive up to $100k for their undergraduate loans.
The recipients will be selected by an assembled FAB AID Board, which includes Gordon along with thought leaders in the education and personal finance space, as well as influencers who have also been impacted by student debt. The board includes actress and musician Laura Marano, influencers Nabela Noor and Aja Dang, financial expert Bola Sokunbi, and former president of Bowdoin College Barry Mills.
Many of the board members feel the magnitude of this initiative first hand. "As someone who graduated with $180,000 worth of student loan debt and ignored it for years, I understand the stress and frustration you live with when you graduate with debt," Dang tells R29. "I put off getting married and having kids; I had to decide whether I wanted to pay health insurance or student loans; I lived in a constant state of stress, for years."
Fellow board member Nabela Noor, a Bangladeshi-American content creator, says she wasn't able to attend her dream school and even so, still faced hefty student loans for her bachelor's degree. "Being a child of immigrants with limited resources and financial instability, I have always been passionate about education and how dreams can feel expensive due to the high cost of college education," she tells us.
As students begin the application process today, the brand and its board members are eager to see the impact this can have on the winners. "Student debt is one of the most important issues to my generation," Marano tells us. "I believe college can be such an amazing experience, but it should prepare us for the next chapter of our lives — not hold us back from it."
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