by Jeff Howard
When I first learned I was accepted to university in the U.S., I was ecstatic. It had been a dream of mine for years, and I had applied with no little to no expectations. However, the two-week lag between my acceptance and my financial aid package brought me back to reality, as I anxiously awaited that second email.
Once I learned that I had a relatively small loan to pay, I frantically ticked each box, unaware of what I was signing up for. Even to this day, while I understand my debt better, there's still this lack of clarity—I can't say with 100% certainty that I truly understand my debt.
As we all know, college is an investment. We pay for the education, network, and powerful experiences that will hopefully propel us further to live a happy and successful life. Like every investment, there is risk, but with the crippling debt that students have in the US, it's tough to see the reward.
There is, however, a solution: Income Share Agreements (ISAs). These agreements guarantee the money required for your education, and only when you start earning from your job do you begin paying back this loan. In the case of international students, many of us choose to study in the U.S. for its reputation as a hub of innovation that can help us further our careers. We don't really know the risk, but we take the chance anyway. However, with ISAs, any downside risk is mitigated, as you can only pay once you earn; this is not an aspect of traditional student loans.
In an effort to both attract and retain international students in U.S. colleges and universities, the loan process should be made as simple as possible. Rather than the truth being lost in pages of fine print, one should see as clear as day what exactly they are signing their name to. ISAs provide both this clarity and that financial protection against downside risk. And that is what will continue to attract some brilliant minds from all parts of the world to the center of change.
Stride Funding already provides ISA’s to U.S. citizens and permanent residents but is working on ways to provide international students with this opportunity that they may not have had otherwise.