Photo: Photo: Courtesy of Alex Kenjeev
Last week, a Reddit user posted a photo of a $114,000 student loan bill—paid in cash—that elicited thousands of comments and dozens more when we posted it here. Since then, the anonymous alum has stepped forward as Alex Kenjeev, a 2009 law school graduate of the University of Toronto.
Kenjeev, who works for venture capitalist firm O’Leary Ventures, told Business Insider the $114,000 payment was the last chunk left of $190,000 in loans he took out during school.
He’d spent years dragging out his payments while pouring most of his income into a start-up. As for why he paid in cash, Kenjeev said he wasn’t proving some point about the dangers of credit cards or trying to show off. He just thought it’d be really funny.
“It was stressful enough to carry such a big debt load. I thought it would be worth getting a few laughs out of it,” he said. “Neither bank thought it was as funny as I thought it was.”
In fact, when Kenjeev showed up at the Royal Bank of Canada to withdraw the cash, the management initially refused him. Then they told him he’d have to pay a transport fee to have it delivered by armoured truck.
We reached out to an RBC spokesperson, who said that while the bank does take precautions for large cash withdrawals, it wouldn’t order an armoured courier unless a customer asked for specific denominations or had a strict timeline for receiving the funds.
In the end, Kenjeev dodged the fee but had to wait three days before he could pick up the cash.
“After so many years of carrying student debt, a few extra days didn’t bother me,” he said.
“I just plopped the bag down (on the counter),” he said. “They also didn’t know how to handle it. At first the manager didn’t want to accept the money.”
While Kenjeev waited, calls to higher-ups were made, his RBC withdrawal slip was reviewed, and tellers went to work counting the bills by hand.
“I was pretty naive,” Kenjeev admitted. “I didn’t really realise how much of a hassle I’d cause for everybody. You just look at things and you figure cash is simpler than anything else.”
When all was said and done, he shook hands with the bank manager and walked out two-and-a-half hours later—completely debt-free. The idea to post a photo on Facebook came spontaneously, but he still doesn’t know who posted it on Reddit.
“I was feeling very good about finally being debt-free,” Kenjeev said. “Some people have taken it pretty offensively. I actually think they have a point. It hadn’t really occurred to me.”