Can’t afford to do a Masters? Can’t afford not to?
Fund your postgraduate or professional course with StudentFunder.com
The sun is swiftly setting on your time at uni. Dissertation handed in, exams flying by and the big, bad world sprawls ahead of you.
It’s the time of year when many students think, “I’m not ready to leave yet.” And it turns out, many employers aren’t ready for you to leave either. In a competitive marketplace, some seven in 10 firms screen for a Masters or professional qualification in recruitment.
But many students rule out starting a course because they lack finance. Postgraduate and professional courses cost thousands of pounds – with the fees due before your career starts and your pay packet has had the benefit of your extra qualifications.
That is the problem StudentFunder.com is now solving for graduates. The social enterprise is providing loans for postgraduate and professional courses and allowing students to overcome the upfront costs by paying back over time.
“There is a broken bridge between undergraduate courses covered by the Student Loans Company and the Masters level qualifications many young (and not so young) people need to reach their dream career. StudentFunder.com is making the money work harder and filling an acute funding gap,” says Juan Guerra, StudentFunder’s Founder and CEO
“This doesn’t just help the student, it’s a fundamental part of the knowledge economy and an engine for social mobility.”
Government economists estimate postgraduates benefit from an on average 10 percent uplift in annual earnings compared to undergraduates. With such a premium on high-flying jobs gained only through advanced studies, StudentFunder sees both a business opportunity and an urgent need to help those who cannot call on the Bank of Mum and Dad before the summer’s out.
After a decade of expansion in postgraduate enrolment, applications from home students for Masters courses have fallen 12 percent in the past three years. While there has been a recent increase in philanthropic giving to universities, scholarships are not sufficient to make up for the general tightening in higher education funding.
Since the financial crunch, a number of high-street banks have withdrawn postgraduate loan schemes. Only 2 percent of Masters students now receive the Professional & Career Development Loan offered by two high street banks and subsidised by the government’s Skills Funding Agency.
“The standard offer is painful for students and often painful for big banks too. Lending small sums to lots of students requires plenty of administration. Banks using old IT systems find it manual and expensive,” Guerra states matter-of-factly.
While stopping short of asking The Tab to sympathise with hurt bank managers coming to terms with students’ devastating complaint letters, Guerra offers his solution: “StudentFunder has the benefit of new technology. We’re smaller, nimbler and dedicated to students aiming for postgraduate and professional qualifications”.
Working in partnership with schools and universities and with support from philanthropic foundations, private investors and alumni groups, StudentFunder is now lending to qualifying students for this September’s intake.
Initially funds will target students doing career-focused courses and the typical annual interest rate will be 7 percent.
“It’s time for a low-hassle and student-friendly solution, an inclusive alternative to the Professional & Career Development Loan,” Guerra declares, pointing to StudentFunder’s potential to provide credit to overseas students and students without guarantors or credit histories.
Young people who lack a sufficient credit score can demonstrate their creditworthiness by meeting a personal fundraising target on StudentFunder’s crowdfunding platform. After a successful campaign, students can apply for a top-up loan for the remainder.
All loans are organised so that repayments begin up to six months after graduation. As loans are repaid, they can be used to fund the next generation of students needing finance.
StudentFunder‘s Guerra, a Mexican who crowdfunded, busked and sold possessions to study in Germany and at Cranfield School of Management notes, “it is ironic how you often see a queue of graduands in robes and mortar boards queuing up to pay their two quid library fine before the university will let them graduate. That is a high-class problem.
“What you don’t see are the thousands of students who could not enrol in the first place because the finance was not there for them. We need to level the playing-field with a sustainable and fair model.”
Find out more and apply on StudentFunder.com.