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College Grads Sell Stakes in Themselves to Wall Street

Instead of taking out loans, students can agree to hand over part of their future earnings in return for investment.

Amy Wroblewski

Amy Wroblewski

Photographer: Maura Friedman for Bloomberg Businessweek

To pay for college, Amy Wroblewski sold a piece of her future. Every month, for eight-and-a-half years, she must turn over a set percentage of her salary to investors. Today, about a year after graduation, Wroblewski makes $50,000 a year as a higher education recruiter in Winchester, Va. So the cut comes to $279 a month, less than her car payment.

If the 23-year-old becomes a star in her field, she could pay twice as much. If she loses her job, she won’t have to pay anything, and investors will be out of luck until she finds work.