Felix Baumgartner and the Student Loan Parachute

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Who said the only way to learn about money was to read articles on top of articles? Financial education is all around us—provided you look closely enough. Increase your awareness with the SALT Blog video of the week, picked fresh from YouTube.

Well, I hate to be the one to say it, but I suppose Red Bull doesn’t actually give you wings.

What it did give Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner was the chance to jump out of a balloon craft from the ridiculous height of 128,100 feet. That’s four times higher than Mount Everest!


Baumgartner had previously made headlines for skydiving across the English Channel and jumping from Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue (because, I assume, he loves Jeee-sus and America, too).

For those of you who hadn’t yet seen Baumgartner’s feat, the folks at Red Bull flew this guy up in the air and filmed him jumping all the way back to Earth. He hit a top speed of 833 mph and broke three world records, none of which were related to Red Bull’s other jumps.

The video is pretty awe-inspiring and brings two questions to mind:

  1. Who needs NASA when we have energy drink companies?
  2. How can this teach us a financial lesson?

Question 1 is a clearly a joke (right?), but let’s take a look at question 2.


Baumgartner’s free-fall was on purpose (this video would be far less inspiring if not), but when it comes to paying off student loans, sometimes your life could turn into a free-fall without you wanting it to. Just like Felix had his parachute and his special suit, many student borrowers also have helpful options.

Over the last couple weeks here at SALT, I’ve learned that if my situation ever is trending downward, I can change my payment schedule to something like a graduated or income-based repayment plan. These options decrease your payments, letting you slow things down and straighten them out when life throws you a curveball (or pushes you out of your fancy space capsule).

Or when things head into actual free-fall, I know that there are other options, like deferment or forbearance. These options suspend payments if you are really struggling, which could go a long way in helping you gain control.


I don’t plan on using any of these methods now, but I doubt Felix Baumgartner knew 5 years ago that he’d be skydiving from space.

Just like Baumgartner and his crew prepared and studied how to make this leap safely, students like me need to know what their financial parachutes are.

Felix jumped from the heavens and wasn’t scared at all because he was heavily prepared and protected. With your student loans, if you know where you stand and what can help, you shouldn’t have any reason to be afraid either.

Or, you’ll at least be a lot less afraid then the guy who just jumped from space.

Know what’s your financial parachute is? Pull the ripcord in the comments.

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  1. Kimberly June 20, 2013 / 12:50 pm

    WOW, is the first thing that comes to mind! This video gave me chills! Thanks for providing an inspiring video! This made my fear of student loans seem microscopic compared to a man doing that!

  2. Lynda Perry June 20, 2013 / 1:03 pm


  3. Brenda Leeflang June 20, 2013 / 1:26 pm


  4. Jake June 20, 2013 / 2:11 pm

    That sky diving clip was cray!

  5. KristeenLynnae June 20, 2013 / 2:32 pm

    Great analogy!

  6. Alexa June 20, 2013 / 4:16 pm


  7. niakeela June 20, 2013 / 4:20 pm


  8. Eric June 20, 2013 / 4:21 pm

    Absolutely incredible! I could only imagine what it would be like to see the Earth from there.

  9. Jackie June 20, 2013 / 5:29 pm


  10. Athena Kulkarni June 20, 2013 / 5:57 pm

    sounds good!

  11. Cheryl M June 20, 2013 / 6:32 pm

    I knew about the graduated payment plan, but not about the income-based plan, that is wonderful considering the instability of our economy. I will read further into that.

  12. Christina June 20, 2013 / 6:50 pm

    Wow that jump is still incredible to watch; definitely makes paying for college seem less scary though compared to that!

  13. Danie June 20, 2013 / 6:57 pm


  14. Ashley June 20, 2013 / 7:06 pm


  15. Tracie Steele June 20, 2013 / 7:08 pm

    AND he landed on his feet. Truly incredible!!!!!!

  16. Sherry June 20, 2013 / 7:16 pm

    Great video AND I loved the analogy :)

  17. May June 20, 2013 / 7:38 pm

    It look so cool. That would be something my husband would do.

  18. Beth June 20, 2013 / 7:41 pm

    That was pretty awesome!

  19. justine June 20, 2013 / 7:52 pm

    Wow…thanks this is great.

  20. lavinia Drew June 20, 2013 / 8:00 pm

    Great Job Amazing

  21. germaine harrison June 20, 2013 / 8:06 pm


  22. Cathy Klinger June 20, 2013 / 9:00 pm


  23. cathy June 20, 2013 / 9:25 pm


  24. LaTasha Pemberton June 20, 2013 / 9:33 pm


  25. Donna June 20, 2013 / 9:57 pm


  26. Gwen Rolax June 20, 2013 / 11:25 pm

    This is just amazing and inspiring….Thank you so much

  27. abby June 20, 2013 / 11:54 pm


  28. Julie N. June 21, 2013 / 12:07 am

    Wow, great video.

  29. Autumn June 21, 2013 / 12:19 am

    good video

  30. Aydin June 21, 2013 / 12:42 am


  31. Shivani Patel June 21, 2013 / 1:01 am

    i love adventure. i would do something like this :)

  32. Amanda Bailey June 21, 2013 / 1:08 am

    Know what’s your financial parachute is? Pull the ripcord in the comments

    Don’t understand this duty but figured a comment wouldn’t hurt!

  33. Jessica June 21, 2013 / 2:03 am


  34. Beth S. June 21, 2013 / 2:18 am

    Amazing video!!!

  35. Beth S. June 21, 2013 / 2:20 am

    Sweet video !!!

  36. Kyle June 21, 2013 / 2:48 am

    thats crazy

  37. TrinaB June 21, 2013 / 3:10 am


  38. Perry C. June 21, 2013 / 3:23 am

    That is so crazy and scary but cool at the same time.

  39. Sara June 21, 2013 / 6:38 am

    Like :)

  40. Beth H June 21, 2013 / 6:49 am


  41. shannon June 21, 2013 / 7:24 am


  42. Holly LaBrecque June 21, 2013 / 7:31 am

    Pretty cool

  43. jennifer June 21, 2013 / 8:33 am

    Would rather skydive than have student loans at least its over quickly lol but amazing video looks like a lot of fun

  44. Jennifer Mae Hiles June 21, 2013 / 9:35 am

    That was crazy, i would have passed out before I could pull the cord!

  45. Lucette June 21, 2013 / 9:59 am


  46. Maia June 21, 2013 / 10:33 am

    I learned something new today and that’s the income based plan. In my situation, Sallie Mae had a very nice plan start when I began repayment in 2006. After 5 months of paying my normal payment I got a call from Sallie telling me about a new plan that would allow me to make smaller payments ($70) for 2 years (If I remember right) and then larger payments ($140) later. The plan didn’t increase interest on my loan or change my terms. Even though I was able to make my monthly payment of $120, I was only making 20K a year, supporting a disabled mother, and I hadn’t found my “career” position yet, so the plan allowed me to stretch my budget in hopes that my income would improve after 2 years. During those 2 years I was able to find a job working in my degree with higher pay. So when my higher payments started I was ready. I was actually able to pay more than just the minimum payment. After 5 years of on time payments with Sallie they dropped my interest rate by 1% which has helped me speed up my payments. With Sallie Mae’s help and my handle on my school loans I’ve shaved 8 years off my student loan payment terms.

  47. Natalie June 21, 2013 / 10:43 am

    That is amazing!

  48. lois suttles June 21, 2013 / 10:44 am

    He did a great job.

  49. Tanya L. June 21, 2013 / 10:52 am


  50. Jeremy June 21, 2013 / 11:09 am

    Crazy awsome!

  51. RAD June 21, 2013 / 11:14 am

    Good for you

  52. Amber June 21, 2013 / 11:23 am

    Very cool

  53. allison fine June 21, 2013 / 11:25 am

    Holy sh*&%R this is insane! Better him than me! But I am in awe…:)

  54. Donna Malenfant June 21, 2013 / 11:46 am

    Champions push the limit. This is exciting stuff!!

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