A woman has sold her frozen eggs to help pay off her crippling student debt after saying she didn't have "any other option".
Despite working three jobs while studying to be a dietician at New York University, Kassandra Jones, 28, found herself in $167,000 (A$240,000) debt.
When she was accepted for a master's degree to realise her dream of becoming a registered dietician at New York University in 2017, she was looking at $40,000 (A$57,000) for each academic year.
Determined to follow her career path, Kassandra applied for scholarships but to no avail.
Stressing due to mounting debt and her future on the line, when a friend suggested donating her eggs for money she felt she had no choice but to contemplate it.
"When you're desperate to figure things out as a young adult and you have this crushing amount of debt from the education system it puts you between a rock and a hard place," she said.
"I heard about donating my eggs through word of mouth.
"Several female friends of mine had started doing it to help pay their cost of tuition and school expenses for things like books."
After researching further, as well as speaking to a friend who had made four months' worth of wages in just a few weeks, Kassandra, then 23, took the plunge – receiving $10,000 for each round.
She's now had five rounds in total – bringing in $50,000 (A$72,000) – but the payments have still failed to make a dent in her debt due to rising interest rates.
"Hearing that number [of egg donations] out loud every single time almost makes me catch my breath," she told Jam Press.
"I didn't really have any other option."
Egg donation an 'intensive' process
Egg donation is when a woman gives her eggs to help families who cannot use their own.
However, it can be an "intensive" process, both physically and emotionally.
Kassandra admits the process was labour intensive and she had to learn how to give herself injections, needing a friend to do it for her the very first time.
"There was a ton of pressure and swelling in my lower abdomen, pain from cramping that made it difficult to walk, stand up, sit down or laugh," she said.
"And it's worsened by eating or drinking too much.
"The best term to describe it is discomfort."
She also experienced cravings, changes to her sex driver, tender breasts and dehydration.
"I didn't have a problem with it as I knew this was genetic material I was donating and not my child," she said.
"I knew I had to donate more than one or two times to get myself set up.
"After the third time it did start to have a longer time side-effect. I felt like my body wasn't able to recover in the same way."
Older generations 'don't get it'
Kassandra's unconventional way of making ends meet has divided opinion – with older generations, in particular, taking issue with it and not understanding what it's like for the younger generations.
"To even have a chance to afford tuition without debt while in school, we would have to work 40-50 hours a week with whatever wages you can get without a degree and then somehow pull off being a full-time student and find the time to I guess sleep?" she said.
"Generations who also currently hold top-tier positions now and worked their way up don't have the same qualifying entry points either."
Kassandra's last donation was in February 2021 and she has set aside the money until US student loan repayments – which have been paused since March 2020 – restart in August this year.
In 2021, the US had a record-breaking $1.73 trillion in student debt.
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