Here's how the founder of Facebook can thank his loyal supporters: help us pay off our student loans.

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Let’s take a trip back to 2004, way before Facebook swelled to 900 million members worldwide and generated its colossal IPO. It was then that Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room and gradually let his target audience take the site for a test drive.

That’s right. Us. College students in the mid-2000s.

Way before your grandmother ever learned how to tag herself at a family reunion, Facebook was ours. The social network spread like wildfire across college campuses, and we provided Zuckerberg with crucial feedback to keep the site rolling in its most formative stages.

Colleges and universities were the perfect laboratories for product testing. Insular communities overflowing with chatterboxes that needed a place to share anything and everything. Facebook transformed college life way before it changed the world.

Now, people are salivating over Facebook finally going public. Early investors could become overnight billionaires and even California – which will receive $2 billion in state taxes in just the next year – stands to win big.

Everyone is cashing in on the Facebook IPO except, of course, those who made it all possible: young professionals like you and me. Zuckerberg had the sheer brilliance to bring Facebook into the world, but we had the collective enthusiasm to make it a reality.

Problem is, most of us are struggling to pay our water and electric bills and can hardly spare $38 a share (the initial price on Wall Street). We should reap the benefits from Facebook as much as anyone, but our generation is saddled with an interminable enemy: student loan debt.

An actual student loan horror story:

Original Balance: $199,256.90

Current Balance: $253,015.63

Paid so far: $29,242.15 (I’ve never missed a payment)

Interest rates: up to 10.7% (Citibank)

So here’s an idea: what better way for Zuckerberg to thank the people who made him the 35th richest person in the world than helping alleviate our financial burden? 

Perhaps Zuckerberg can start a new movement with his old pals from 2004. He should use his vast resources and influence to design an online program that helps us pay down our student debt in constructive ways. Maybe we could “earn” the aid by volunteering in our communities. Facebook could strike partnerships with banks and loan organizations to tackle this crisis head on.

A comprehensive student loan strategy from Facebook would be more than a thank-you to its earliest adopters; solving this problem is essential for the long-term growth of our economy and the future of the middle class.

It’s an idea that makes people sense as much as business sense.

I think Zuckerberg knows a little something about that.

Danny Rubin is a national news consultant for media research firm Frank N Magid Associates. He is a former television news reporter, lives in Washington, D.C. and tweets as @dannyhrubin.


  1. Aleksey_vitebskiy

    That’s a bunch of crap. If you have more student loan debt than you can handle you don’t have anybody to blame but yourself. Zuckerberg is of course free to spend his money any way he chooses, but I doubt he’d spend it bailing people out of their own bad decisions.

    • Danny Rubin

      Thanks for responding to my post. My essential point is not that Zuckerberg owes everyone blank checks to solve our problems. Our generation is reeling from student debt and that hurts the overall economy.

      Congress has already tried and failed to find a solution. More and more, the answers are coming from the private sector. It’s in Zuckerberg’s long-term business interest to keep his own generation in the black. We won’t be a very attractive advertising market in 20 years if we have no spending power.

  2. hope

    I thought it was a great. idea! Voter registration in communities… volunteering ,,,,,,,fantastic now is the time touch base to his inner soft spot…….how to get message to Zuckerberg? Idea…….group wedding gift…..Bloomingdale’s

  3. Carrie Smith

    I’m sure Zuck could start a movement or charity to help college students nurture their ideas and entrepreneurial ventures, but no one forced any of us to take out student loans we couldn’t afford. He worked hard for his money, to invent something that we all love to use and for that he should spend his earning as he sees fit.

  4. Rob Smith

    Mark Zuckerberg marries one next day of $104bn IPO
    The 28-year-old billionaire’s wedding happened a next day of Facebook’s initial public offering around the Nasdaq stock market on Friday.

  5. NobleThought

    This “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” theory is quite antiquated. Yes students are ultimately responsible for the debt, however who is responsible for helping make sure the proper infrastructure is in place to help them pay off such debt. It is built into our heads from the time that we are barely in grade school that a college education is the bridge to financial success and opportunity. However in our generation in particular that has become less of a dream and more a slippery slope into financial ruin. I don’t think folks are just looking for an excuse not to own up to their responsibilities, it’s all about making the opportunity to do so. There are too many damned if I do damned if I don’t stories out there for the proposition Danny makes not to seem somewhat reasonable. Ultimately, without early adopters such as Millenials coming in and giving Facebook a true stamp of approval who knows if it would be as successful today? If anything it would be a nice gesture, and economically smart, but I won’t hold my breath.

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