5 Startups Disrupting College Financing

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The price of college is exponentially rising making it harder and harder for aspiring college graduates to finance their education. The current financial aid system is greatly inadequate. Students who do manage to earn a college degree often find themselves in crushing debt upon graduation. Nonetheless, an increasingly competitive job market has made having a college degree all the more necessary. The good news is, you don’t have to stick with the college financing status quo. Here are five startups that can help you finance your college education:

1. Upstart

If you’re interested in the idea of exchanging a stake of your future earnings for financial aid towards your college education, then Upstart is the place for you. Upstart loans take into account more than just your credit score and years of credit; they also consider your education, area of study, and job history. This makes Upstart ideal for students who don’t qualify for subsidized federal loans.

Dave Girouard, the CEO of Upstart and former president of Google Enterprise created this direct-to-consumer lending platform that provides personal loans using non-traditional sources to determine solvency. Prior to his role as President of Google Enterprise, Girouard started in Silicon Valley as a Product Manager at Apple. He graduated from Dartmouth College with an AB in Engineering Sciences and a BE in Computer Engineering.

 If you’re a student who doesn’t qualify for subsidized federal loans, Upstart is a great alternative to financing your college education!

2. RaiseMe

At RaiseMe you can start earning scholarships as early as 9th grade. RaiseMe is a lending platform that allows students to fund their college via micro-scholarships. Micro-scholarships are awarded to students interested in pursuing higher education for their achievements including, but not limited to, visiting and researching colleges, course grades, involvement in clubs, participation in sports, and volunteer activities.

RaiseMe is perfect for students who are still in high school, international students, or students at a community college with plans to transfer to a four-year university. After a student is admitted to the university of their choice, they are awarded a financial award letter that will meet or exceed the RaiseMe earnings that they have accumulated over the years.

Founder and CEO Preston Silverman got the idea for RaiseMe while volunteering at a school for untouchables in India. RaiseMe’s mission is to expand the access to higher education so that everyone has a chance at the American Dream.

This startup allows universities to foster relationships with highly motivated students. If you’re an ambitious high school student unsure of how you will finance your college education, RaiseMe is a perfect match for you.

3. Scholly

Searching for scholarships can be exhausting and tedious work—not to mention often inaccessible to the very population that needs them the most. Scholly is a scholarship search tool for both undergraduate and graduate students. It allows students to find personalized scholarships and offers AI-powered proofreading for essays. Scholly aims to make financing college education easier and more accessible.

Christopher Gray, CEO of Scholly believes that college should be an opportunity for all. When Gray was applying for college he was living in poverty, during the recession, in a single-income household. Gray finds fault with the fact that in today’s market college is a necessity that is priced like a luxury. In speaking of his experience financing his college education, Gray explains, “There was information online, but it was scattered all over, and often outdated. I did a lot of Googling. I thought there had to be a better way.”

 Scholly is a great platform for anyone struggling to figure out how to finance their higher education.

4. Frank

If you are attending or planning on attending college then you have no doubt heard of FAFSA or the Federal Application for Student Aid. Nonetheless, FASFA is an incredibly confusing, tedious, and often inaccessible application. Frank is a startup that allows current and aspiring students to navigate the FASFA world—making the experience easier and quicker and ensuring that everyone gets all of the financial aid that they deserve.

 In providing FASFA support, Frank shows students which aid they qualify for, types of aid, how to apply for aid, and how to manage loans. Furthermore, Frank has a college search that allows students to find out the real costs of attending universities. The platform also provides students an opportunity to receive financial aid for books, rent, and food. This is critical in covering costs beyond tuition. 

Frank CEO Charlie Javice made this platform in an effort to create a world where quality education is affordable to all. Javice believes in shifting the relationship between students and their finances. His platform strives to empower students, rather than burden them.

 Ultimately, Frank allows students to maximize their federal loans —regardless of language barriers, where they grew up, or how much money their parents make.

5. CollegeBacker

Another way to micro-finance tuition costs is via a 529 plan—which is a college savings plan that offers tax and financial aid benefits. A 529 plan is a great way for students to receive contributions from parents, grandparents, family, and friends. CollegeBacker helps students open a 529 plan in just five minutes.

 CollegeBacker is a platform based in San Francisco that seeks to make college education achievable not just for those who can afford it, but for everyone. CEO and founder Jordan Lee created this startup in response to his own experience with the American education system. Jordan Lee found the higher education financing system to be broken and geared towards putting students in debt. Lee went to Harvard and Yale and received a doctorate in political science from Princeton. He is the lead investment adviser representative at CollegeBacker and holds a Series 65 license.

 CollegeBacker makes the most out of a form of funding that has grown all the more popular recently, especially with the rise of social media, which allows students access to more people willing to help fund their college education.

Bottom Line

College is a necessity, but graduating with crushing debt isn’t. These five apps encourage students to plan ahead and think outside the box when it comes to college financing. Take advantage of these innovative platforms geared towards financing your future the smart way.


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