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brown eggs in a basket with a pink piggy bank

My eyes flutter open. I’m surrounded by four nurses holding me upside down. They shake me back and forth, urging the blood back to my head. As I regain consciousness I wonder: is this worth it? That “it” is the $10,000 question.

Seven months ago, I received my acceptance to Columbia University’s School of Journalism. I was absolutely stunned to be admitted, but even more shocked by the $116,000 price tag, for tuition and living expenses. The school, whose education is widely considered the golden standard in journalism, would provide me with unparalleled access, in an industry I currently felt immobile in.

Fortunately, the vast majority of the cost would be covered by scholarships. For the remaining rent and living costs, I looked for something else to plug the gap. I landed on a burgeoning industry offering struggling people vast amounts of cash, relatively fast: egg donation.

It’s 90-something degrees on a June morning in New York City. My wrinkled, green satin skirt sticks to my legs as I rush into the egg donation clinic’s main office for another screening... see more