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Halifax student turns to pennies to pay off loan debt

Dalhousie University student Sherry Benteau plans to pay off her student loan one penny at a time – literally.

Dalhousie University student Sherry Benteau plans to pay off her student loan one penny at a time – literally.

In fact, if she can collect all of the pennies needed, the total weight of the coins would be an estimated 50,000 pounds and a truck would be needed to take them all to the bank.

The 33-year-old's goal is to raise 10 million pennies to pay off her $100,000 debt, and since starting her collection in May she has amassed 30,000 pennies – or $300 - from friends, co-workers and customers at the downtown Halifax coffee shop where she works.

“I was on Statscan today and realized that if one in three Maritimers gave 18 pennies I would make my goal,” Benteau proclaimed, adding she views her cause as a challenge, not charity.

“I saw on TV once that if all the pennies in Canada were collected, there would be enough money to pay off the national deficit. It sort of stuck,” she added.

While her student loan is not equivalent to the national deficit, she said it’s more than she can afford. Her payments are $1,000 a month, much more than she makes at her part time job at Second Cup on Spring Garden Road.

Benteau is now a part-time student, which requires her to start paying back her loan. Having already earned an honours degree in sociology with a minor in English at Dalhousie, she is finishing up a degree in geology this year, having vowed she would only leave school when there was a job on the way.

Benteau said the recession has killed those dreams as many of her friends' jobs were lost shortly after graduation because of the tough economic times, adding she now worries she will be paying off her student loans while her friends are busy paying off their mortgages.

 
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