Choice is the Future of Education Financing

Meratas
Meratas
Published in
5 min readMar 25, 2022

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Choice is the Future of Education Financing

Student loan debt in the United States totals $1.749 trillion as of March 1, 2022, according to educationdata.org. Unfortunately, this has several adverse effects beyond what many may realize.

First and most obviously, this debt prevents many students from reaching their other financial goals after their education. For example, their growing student loan debt keeps them from buying a car, a house, and, in many cases, even delays or prevents retirement.

Zippia surveyed 500 workers with student debt to better understand the impact of student loan debt on significant life milestones. Unsurprisingly, excessive traditional student debt has not only shaped some workers’ career choices but also pushed back (or halted entirely) homeownership, parenthood, and marriage. From working multiple jobs to working less than desirable jobs unrelated to their degree, many job seekers feel the pressure to pay off their mountain of student debt so they can start saving for and reaching other financial milestones.

This overwhelming debt then leads to students losing faith in the higher education system. Why would they want to take out tens of thousands of dollars in traditional, high-interest loans only to spend years or even decades paying them off? Without confidence in a future career and with the knowledge that the debt they could take on could mount for so long, it’s no wonder that student have become more and more hesitant to pursue their educational goals.

This mentality could also even lead to a loss of faith in alternative education spaces too such as coding boot camps. With many students opting to go directly into the workforce after their K-12 education, they may lose out on the amazing opportunities that come with alternative education such as faster job placement, learning highly specialized skills, and more career support.

In order to renew their faith in the higher education world, students need more and better options when it comes to paying for their education — options that go beyond a traditional, high-interest-bearing loan.

Exploring Financing Alternatives

Buy now pay later (BNPL) platforms that allow customers to make purchases in installments are growing in popularity in the United States and being used like never before.

AWS and PYMNTS.com recently released their study on BNPL consumer spending habits. The interesting thing about this study is that it not only shows that students need a better way to pay for their education, they’re demanding it. It not only shows that students need a better way to pay, but they’re also demanding it.

Eighty-three percent of consumers who would like to use a BNPL option to make big-ticket service purchases say they see it as a practical alternative to using personal loans and credit cards for those purchases.

Younger generations are hopping on the trend to save money. Platforms like Afterpay, Klarna, and Affirm allow users to make big box purchases without having to shell out the entire cost upfront.

You may be thinking, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later works great for retail, but how would it work for education?’ Turns out it’s exactly what students are asking for.

1 in 4 Students wants a BNPL option for their education.

As part of this report, they surveyed consumers and asked them what services they were most interested in using BNPL for. They could answer on a scale from not interested to extremely interested. Of those polled, 1 in 4 said they are very or extremely interested in using BNPL for their education. This provides an amazing opportunity for educators because the number one barrier identified to increasing enrollment is too few student payment options.

Unfortunately, students have limited options when it comes to paying for their education. With flexible financing like BNPL, students and schools are changing the way students and schools view funding.

BNPL programs allow schools to increase enrollment and improve retention while also giving their students more options to pay for their education.

But will this make sense for students?

From a familiarity perspective, it does. Twenty-nine million U.S. consumers have purchased at least one product or service using a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solution over the last 12 months.

BNPL solutions provide buyers with financial predictability and certainty that their purchases will be fully paid for at the end of their term, the ability to pay for retail purchases in installments over a fixed term. Many of these options also have a low or 0% interest rates, making them a more manageable payment option.

PYMNTS’ research also shows that consumers’ interest in using this alternative payment option expands far beyond its roots in retail. As many as 111 million U.S. consumers want to use BNPL plans for purchasing high-value products and services, including airline tickets, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and home remodeling.”

As a result, the BNPL industry is now worth $97 billion and set to only go up from there.

Is this a better alternative?

We believe it certainly is. Meratas offers many kinds of deferred tuition products that allow students to pay for their education over time. In addition, many come with higher incentives for schools to help their students get a well-paying job before the tuition amount can be repaid.

All of our options can also be combined to create a custom tuition plan that best serves the student’s needs while also making financial sense for the school.

Finally, our BNPL-style options carry far less or zero interest for students, meaning they’re often only paying back the tuition they borrow. This means shorter repayment times and more manageable financing for the student.

Meratas: The All In One Tuition Solution

Buy Now Pay Later is here to stay, and for good reason.

BNPL gives consumers more options to pay for big-ticket items and helps make big purchase items such as education more manageable. The shift in perspective to using this for programs has long been inevitable, and we’re excited for the number of schools that are beginning to use this form of financing that we like to call Learn Now Pay Later.

Finding the best solution to the issue of traditional, long-term student debt can be difficult, but diversifying tuition options and giving more choices to students is the first step towards in giving them a more equitable future.

Your tuition needs are unique to you and your students. If you need the flexibility to build your financing, Meratas is your solution. Check out our Partners Page to learn more about how you can use Learn Now and Pay Later to achieve your program’s goals!

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Meratas
Meratas

Meratas provides a complete software solution to design and manage Income Share Agreements (ISA) programs proven to increase enrollment