A few years ago, Lauren had a big problem. The Queens, N.Y., resident had graduated from college with an art degree as the Great Recession had hit. She had private student loans with high interest rates. For work, all she could find were retail jobs. And by 2016, her loans had ballooned to about $200,000.
" 'I can't afford to actually pay my bills and eat and pay my rent,' " she remembers thinking. "I was financially handicapped. I mean, my student loan payments were higher than my rent was."