CU Water Cooler

DIY Student Loans

Brent DixonComment

There’s almost nothing you can't learn about today if you go looking for it. Because of this, "training" and "teaching" is really curating and distilling.

Groups are already doing this and making it accessible to anyone for free:

The list goes on.

Because of this, it’s possible for anyone with vision for where they want to go to develop their own higher education path. The missing components are [time to develop and engage in the curriculum] and [guidance and community along the way].

Stack that against the fact that the current higher education system is not sustainable (good Filene data to support this, if anyone’s interested). Cost of education is going up, jobs are down, and many companies are hiring based on experience rather than a diploma.

"What if it was viable to receive student loans to develop and go through your own education program?"

"Time to develop and engage in the curriculum" is money. Right now, you can get a student loan to pay for your education, materials, and living expenses for two or three years as you pursue a graduate degree. What if it was viable to receive student loans to develop and go through your own education program? The loans would be much cheaper, you’d need a year or two of living expenses and materials, but would not have to pay for the actual schooling (Parsons School of Design, where I’d love to attend is $18.8k per term….good lord).

You’d lose the benefit of having the guidance of talented professors along the way. You’d gain the benefit of new skills and perspectives – custom tailored to your individual pursuit – at a much lower cost and the experience of building something yourself.

Hell, if people started to share their own developed coursework, that could save others with similar desires the "build" time down the line.

How could we make this a legitimate type of student loan?


Brent Dixon lives in Austin, Texas. He is a designer, educator, musician and doodler. Brent works with the Filene Research Institute to apply their research in the real world, runs the design studio The Habdash, and founded the young professionals' community the Cooperative Trust.