burgers and fries as fast food enters the student debt world

Winners and Losers in Burger King Student Loan “Payoff”

Michael Lux Blog 0 Comments

We’ve seen game shows, apps and billionaire commencement speakers pay off student loans.  It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that a fast food company has decided to pay down some student debt.

This advertising campaign will certainly have some big winners, but it probably won’t be most student loan borrowers.

Is the Burger King offer to pay off student loans legit?

Burger King isn’t creating a student loan plan or making a huge grant… they are hosting a contest.

One lucky winner will get up to $100,000 of their student loans paid off and 300 people will get up to $500 to cover their monthly student loan bills.

In total they will be spending no more than $250,000 actually paying down student loans.  While $500 would certainly be a nice boost to anyone struggling with student debt, Burger King won’t be making a meaningful difference in the lives of student loan borrowers, save the grand prize winner.

It is also worth noting that winners will receive a 1099 tax form and be responsible for paying federal, state and local taxes on any student loan assistance received.

Winner: Burger King Brand Awareness

What makes this contest so clever is the fact that student loans are such a hot button issue in the United States.

If Burger King was to simply give away $100,000 in cash to a customer it wouldn’t generate nearly the attention that this contest has already generated.

Numerous national and local media outlets have already picked up the story.  People have taken to twitter to beg Burger King pay off their student debt.

Losers: Student Loan Borrowers

Many student loan borrowers have no clue how they will ever pay off their student loans.  Some expect to die with their student debt.

The student loan crisis is a very real problem in many households across the country.

Making paying off student loans a prize akin to winning the lottery only serves to entrench the mindset that student debt is impossible to pay off.  Burger King isn’t to blame here, they are just taking advantage of a serious problem that many face and using it as an opportunity to sell some Whoppers.

Winner: Earnest Student Loans

The big winner here that will likely fly under the radar is Earnest, the student loan partner in this contest.

As a result of this contest Earnest may have access to a huge list of student loan borrowers, their email addresses, and debt amounts.  In the extremely competitive student loan refinance marketplace, this information is extremely valuable.

Don’t be surprised to see more contests of the nature going forward.

Final Thought

For many people, this is probably just a fun contest.

Burger King also has zero responsibility to help address the student loan crisis.  In fact, they have a duty to their shareholders to earn money, and this is an extremely clever advertising campaign.

That being said, this whole thing saddens me.  People are truly desperate for help on their student loans and “Whopper Loans” is just another reminder of how absurd things have become.