CFPB Report on School Payment Plans: Navigating Higher Inflation and Tightening Lending Standards with Payment Plans

Posted on September 22, 2023 by Darius Goldman

In today’s economic landscape, characterized by rising inflation and increasingly stringent lending standards, educational institutions are facing unique challenges in securing adequate funding. Traditional avenues for student financing, such as private educational and personal loans, are becoming less accessible as lenders tighten their belts in response to economic uncertainties.

As a result, an increasing number of schools are turning to tuition payment plans as a viable alternative to bridge funding shortfalls. These plans offer a more flexible approach to tuition payments, allowing students to pay in installments with or without an interest component. While this shift offers immediate relief and opens up new avenues for both schools and students, it also brings its own set of complexities and responsibilities.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a comprehensive report that delves into the intricacies of tuition payment plans. The report outlines key findings and recommendations that are crucial for educational institutions to consider as they navigate this changing financial landscape.
By understanding the CFPB’s guidelines and adapting accordingly, schools can offer tuition payment plans that are not only compliant but also transparent and fair for students. This is especially critical in a time when financial flexibility is not just a convenience, but a necessity for many.

Executive Summary:

The CFPB collected and analyzed Payment Plan data from 450 colleges from Dec 2022 to Apr 2023. The results, published by the CFPB on September 2023, are summarized in this memo.

The report discusses tuition payment plans at US colleges, which allow installment payments but can resemble loans, leading to CFPB’s concern of consumer confusion due to differing terms. Automatic enrollment can result in surprise fees, including high late payment charges and potential conversion to interest-bearing loans.

Colleges may employ aggressive debt collection tactics like withholding transcripts and impacting enrollment status. Some contracts attempt to waive consumer rights. The report emphasizes the necessity of transparency and consumer protection for these plans.

Report Findings:

1) Nearly all colleges (98%) offer tuition payment plans, and an estimated 3.9 million students may use these plans each term, according to CFPB research.

2) The CFPB found that disclosure of terms and conditions for tuition payment plans is inconsistent and varies widely. This is in contrast to traditional private education loans, which have standardized federal disclosure requirements. The inconsistency may be due to the diverse range of product structures and terms within tuition payment plans.

3) The CFPB noted that some tuition payment plans may allow for automatic enrollments or forced use. Students might be enrolled without their explicit consent or due to institutional practices that make it difficult to meet tuition deadlines without such a plan. These situations could result in additional fees and financial difficulties for students.

4) The CFPB found that the average late payment fee in tuition payment plans is $30, but some colleges charge over $100 per missed payment. Additionally, some colleges may charge both late and returned payment fees for the same transaction. In certain cases, colleges may convert no-interest payment plans into interest-bearing loans if payments are missed, leading to high costs for late payments.

5) The CFPB observed that at least one-third of colleges may withhold transcripts as a debt collection practice for unpaid balances. Students may also face other severe consequences like removal from classes, meal plans, and campus housing for missed payments. These repercussions can be more severe than those associated with other financial products like federal or private student loans, or credit cards.

6) The CFPB found that some tuition payment plan contracts and related agreements include terms that may waive consumer legal protections or limit how consumers can enforce their rights. Important terms may only be disclosed once, at the initial point of enrollment, and may not be re-disclosed when students enroll in the payment plan.

Best Practices:

1) Clear and Transparent Communication: Provide clear and transparent information about the terms and conditions of the payment plan, including the total cost, payment schedule, fees, and any consequences for late or missed payments.

2) Flexible Payment Options: Offer flexible payment options to accommodate different financial situations, such as monthly or bi-monthly payments, automatic deductions, or online payment portals.

3) Reasonable Fees: Keep fees associated with the payment plan reasonable and clearly disclosed to students. Avoid excessive and duplicative fees that may burden students further.

4) Timely Enrollment: Encourage students to enroll in the payment plan as early as possible to ensure they have enough time to budget and make payments on time.

5) Financial Education and Counseling: Provide resources and support for financial education and counseling to help students make informed decisions about their payment plan and manage their finances effectively.

6) Collaboration with Third-Party Service Providers: If using third-party service providers to administer the payment plan, ensure they adhere to best practices and prioritize student interests.

7) Regular Evaluation and Improvement: Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the payment plan and make improvements based on student feedback and changing financial needs.


Tuition payment plans serve as a valuable financial tool for students, especially in an era of rising inflation and tightening lending standards. However, these plans are not without their complexities and risks. From the potential for debt accumulation to the severe consequences of late payments, the stakes are high for both educational institutions and their students.

Colleges have a pivotal role to play in guiding students through their financial journey. Yet, the pitfalls of hidden fees, unclear disclosures, and automatic enrollments can catch students off guard, particularly when they have no other financing options, effectively creating a captive market.

For educational institutions considering the implementation of tuition payment plans, compliance and transparency are paramount. With Meratas, you can launch your own customized payment plan with best practices in mind.  

If you’re committed to offering a tuition payment plan that balances flexibility with compliance, we invite you to explore how Meratas can assist in achieving this goal.

The CFPB’s full report is available HERE.

Posted under: News and Updates, Tuition Options, Student Loans, MeratasMemo

Career Schools: How To Simplify Student Financing With A Single Application To Multiple Lenders

Posted on September 14, 2023 by Tyler Hawk

With an embedded lending platform, you can easily provide your students with seamless access to multiple lenders.

As more students seek post-pandemic career skilling and re-training, over 80% of students will need to  rely on financing to help cover their tuition costs. This challenges schools to handle the burden of managing multiple financing offers that meet the needs of their students across the financial spectrum and in different locations.

There’s an easier way to take care of your students’ financing needs. 
In this post, we’ll break down how you can seamlessly offer multiple lending options from the providers of your choice, through a standard application, and handle post-payment management, including disputes, reconciliations, and reports. This way you can focus your time and energy on providing a first-class education, while letting a platform take care of your student financing offer.

Providing Multiple Financing Options – Opportunities and Challenges

Consumers increasingly expect a choice of payment options at the moment of purchase. Lenders typically specialize in a specific lending product, and type of customer for example prime, near-prime, or subprime, and geography. This means that to meet the needs of all students, schools need to integrate more than one lender into their offer. However, this presents significant challenges:

Once these challenges are overcome, and students have quick and easy access to personalized financing that offers them flexibility and choice, schools benefit from improved approval rates, increased average tuition value, and more enrollments.

What Schools Need From a Multi-Lender Financing Platform

Schools require a consumer financing solution that frees them up to focus on the day-to-day running of their business and provide students with the best possible education. Their main concerns for a financing solution are that it:

The most efficient way to overcome these challenges is through a multi-lender platform embedded within the student’s journey that offers a seamless financing experience for both the student and the school.

Why Meratas is the Leading Multi-Lender Financing Platform for Schools

Meratas is the only platform that connects schools, lenders, and students seamlessly, embedding a complete private financing solution into the student journey. Meratas’ network of over 80+ national lenders covers the entire student financial spectrum from prime to subprime and also educational and personal loan options.

Students simply need to complete a quick application and the platform will search for the best financing offers using a ‘waterfall’ method starting with prime lenders that offer the best terms, followed by near-prime, then subprime loans, or even school offered payment payments where students have even more choice. Within seconds, students are offered the best financing options based on their unique financial needs and preferences.

The Meratas platform offers the easiest and most efficient solution for schools too. It’s quick to integrate and easy to use as it enables end-to-end management of the entire financing process, including running multiple inhouse payment plan options built around flexibility towards your students’ unique needs.

How Meratas Can Benefit Career Schools

Are you a school that’s looking to improve your enrollment, retention, and student experience? Meratas can be a valuable tool in your toolkit. Click here to get started! 

Posted under: School Resources, Student Success, Tuition Options, Student Loans

Manuevering the Complex Landscape of Student Loan Debt in the United States

Posted on August 29, 2023 by Tyler Hawk

Student loan debt is a growing crisis in the United States. A new report by ChamberofCommerce explores the complex landscape of student loan debt and its impact on borrowers, policymakers, and financial advisors.

Student loan debt in the United States has reached a staggering $1.7 trillion. The average borrower owes over $30,000 in student loans, and many borrowers are struggling to make their payments. The resumption of student loan payments on October 1, 2023, will only add to the financial burden of borrowers.

More tuition options and more student financing options can help to combat the trend of student loan debt by making it easier for students to afford college without taking on excessive debt. This can be done by providing students with more choices about where to attend college, as well as by offering more tuition payment options.

By making college more affordable, we can help to reduce the amount of student loan debt that students graduate with, and we can also help to improve their financial security in the long term.


Tuition Payment Plans

Your school’s billing office (sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office, or student accounts office) may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.

Meratas is a national leading provider of flexible school sponsored payment plans.  You can inquire with your school, or search here to see if your school is already working with Meratas.

Instantly Pre-qualify, Compare and Apply for Private Loans through a Multi-Lender Marketplace

We get it, applying for student loans with direct lenders is a time consuming, burdensome process, which you have to repeat over and over again.  Wouldn’t it be better to apply once, and be able to compare all of your schools’ approved private lenders?  Well, now you can!

Using Meratas’ Multi-Lender Marketplace, you can search and compare real, personalized private loan offers from multiple national lenders through one simple, two-minute application. Using the Multi-Lender Marketplace is free to you, and does not impact your credit score.

After comparing your personal rates, you can choose the loan that best serves your needs, and apply directly through that lender’s website.  You have the right to use any lender you wish, and to accept or reject any offer presented to you. 

By: Jamie Davis

This post was prepared by the author, in her/his personal capacity. The views expressed are her/his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Meratas Inc.

The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, financial or other professional advice. In all cases, you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular situation prior to making any important decisions. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Meratas Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained herein or the operation or use of these materials. Copyright 2023

Posted under: Student Success, Tuition Options, Student Loans

6 Best Options to Pay For School After You’ve Exhausted your Federal Aid

Posted on August 8, 2023 by Tyler Hawk

If you did not receive enough financial aid to cover your school expenses, you have six ways to fill the gap.

Your school’s financial aid office is an excellent resource to help you explore these additional options, even after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

  1.  Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are usually merit-based and do not have to be repaid. The key is being prepared, because scholarships have deadlines and may require time to write essays. So get organized and regularly search and apply for scholarships.

Ask your school’s financial aid office or your academic advisor about school-specific or departmental (major-specific) scholarships. You should also look for local scholarships from where you live or graduated from high school. Scholarships may be offered by

    • community organizations,

    • religious organizations,

    • fraternal organizations, and

    • businesses in your community or that employ your parent(s).

Look for scholarship resources that are available from your state government or from statewide organizations with which you may have been involved. Research companies in your state that are related to your planned field of study.

National scholarships can be more competitive, but don’t let that keep you from applying. Prioritize local applications first.

Just be careful. With scholarship opportunities, it’s wise to be cautious of student aid scams. If you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a scholarship opportunity, contact your school’s financial aid office.

Prioritize local applications first and make sure you meet all deadlines.


  1.  Tuition Payment Plans

Your school’s billing office (sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office, or student accounts office) may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.

Meratas is a national leading provider of flexible school sponsored payment plans.  You can inquire with your school, or search here to see if your school is already working with Meratas.


  1.  Request a Reevaluation of Your Circumstances

Sometimes a family’s finances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA® form because of changes that have occurred, such as job loss/reduction, divorce or separation, or other special circumstances. This may be a consideration now that you can file the FAFSA® form early with tax information that is two years old by the time enrollment begins.

Schools are not required to consider special circumstances, but those that do have a process, called professional judgment. Through this process, you can petition for a reevaluation of the information on your FAFSA® form. This process will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.


  1.  Request Additional Federal Student Loans

If you’ve exhausted other options and still need additional funds to help you pay for school, contact your school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for additional federal student loans. Just remember to borrow only what you need to pay your educational expenses.

If you are a dependent student and still need more money, your parent can apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Most schools use our online application, but others may have their own application. The PLUS loan application process does include a credit check. If your parent is not approved, he or she may still be able to receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser (cosigner) or documenting extenuating circumstances. If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized student loans of up to $5,000, depending upon his or her year in school.


  1.  School-Based Loans, Advances, or Emergency Aid

Sometimes you may have college-related costs, such as housing costs or other living expenses, before your financial aid is disbursed. Your school may offer an option to advance your financial aid, offer a school-based loan program, or have an emergency aid procedure.

Several schools now offer emergency aid opportunities if you experience unexpected expenses or challenges that are making it difficult for you to complete the semester. Ask your financial aid office if they offer these options and always make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions (such as interest rates or repayment terms) of your agreement.


  1.  Instantly Pre-qualify, Compare and Apply for Private Loans through a Multi-Lender Marketplace

We get it, applying for student loans with direct lenders is a time consuming, burdensome process, which you have to repeat over and over again.  Wouldn’t it be better to apply once, and be able to compare all of your schools’ approved private lenders?  Well, now you can!

Using Meratas’ Multi-Lender Marketplace, you can search and compare real, personalized private loan offers from multiple national lenders through one simple, two-minute application. Using the Multi-Lender Marketplace is free to you, and does not impact your credit score.

After comparing your personal rates, you can choose the loan that best serves your needs, and apply directly through that lender’s website.  You have the right to use any lender you wish, and to accept or reject any offer presented to you. 


By: Jamie Davis

This post was prepared by the author, in her/his personal capacity. The views expressed are her/his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Meratas Inc.

The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, financial or other professional advice. In all cases, you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular situation prior to making any important decisions. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Meratas Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained herein or the operation or use of these materials. Copyright 2023

Posted under: Student Success, Tuition Options, Student Loans

2022 Student Loan Statistics You Should Know

Posted on June 2, 2022 by Anna Klawitter

The latest student loan debt statistics show that student loan debt totals $1.75 trillion as of April 2022.

Higher education represents a path to financial prosperity and opportunity for millions of Americans. But, due to rising college costs, many students find it necessary to finance higher education with student loans. Unfortunately, some borrowers find it difficult to pay back their hefty debt upon graduation.

The cost of college has steadily increased over the last 30 years. In that timeframe, tuition costs at public four-year colleges grew from $4,160 to $10,740 and from $19,360 to $38,070 at private nonprofit institutions (adjusted for inflation). As costs have risen, so has the need for student loans and other financial aid forms.

When considering your options, it helps to look at the big picture and understand the full impact and scope of student loans. This is a snapshot of student loan debt in the United States in 2022.

Average Student Loan Debt

Here’s how that debt breaks down by loan type.

Loan typeAmount owedNumber of borrowers
Direct Unsubsidized
Direct Subsidized
$564 billion
$292 billion
34 million, combined
Grad PLUS$91 billion1.6 million
Parent PLUS$105 billion3.7 million
Perkins$4 billion1.5 million
Consolidation$555 billion11.3 million

Federal Student Loan Portfolio

Federal student loans make up the vast majority of American education debt—about 92% of all outstanding student loans are federal debt. The federal student loan portfolio currently totals more than $1.6 trillion, owed by about 43 million borrowers

Federal Student Loans by Age

Unsurprisingly; younger people hold the majority of student loan debt. Borrowers between the ages of 25 and 34 carry about $500 billion in federal student loans—the majority of people in this age group owe between $10,000 and $40,000.

However, people carry their education debt well into middle age and beyond. Borrowers ages 35 to 49 owe more than $620 billion in student loans. This cohort has the highest number of borrowers who owe more than $100,000 in loans.

Even retirees feel the pressure from student loans; 2.4 million borrowers aged 62 or older owe $98 billion in student loans.

Student Loan Repayment Statistics

Here are the current repayment statuses of the federal Direct Loan program.

Individual student loan debt statistics

Here’s how student loan debt in the U.S. impacts individual borrowers:

Student debt and mental health

Student loan debt can significantly impact a borrower’s mental health. Feelings of anxiety and stress may coincide with any long-term debt, especially if the debt impedes the ability to meet critical financial milestones, like saving for a house or buying a car.

Student loan debt by degree

Advanced degrees are expensive, but the investment could pay off. Here’s what you need to know before taking out graduate student loans, according to the Brookings Institute and MeasureOne:

Flexible Financing Could Be a Good Option For You

Under Flexible Financing Like Income Share Agreements; students have more options in higher education because they aren’t limited by finances.

 Because their future funding is dependent on graduates securing paid employment, many schools may offer job search assistance. This helps students feel secure when they are picking a school or program because they won’t have to make payments until they secure a job. 

Schools have little incentives to help graduates find a good-paying job post-graduation under traditional loans because their payments are not tied to the student’s income. A lender will likely have already paid them for your tuition. 

An alternative to traditional private student loans in America is long overdue. We believe flexible Financing is that change.


Posted under: Student Success, Student Loans

8 Scholarships for Coding Bootcamps

Posted on May 8, 2023 by Tyler Hawk

Coding bootcamps range in price from around $7,500 for a part-time program to $13,500 for a full-time program, on average. While there are a variety of ways to cover the cost, scholarships are the first option you should pursue.

Why Scholarships?

Unlike other forms of financial aid — like loans — scholarships are free money, meaning you won’t have to pay them back. Loans, on the other hand, are borrowed money, meaning you’ll need to pay them back with interest. By maximizing the amount of free money you receive, you can limit the amount you borrow in loans.

8 Scholarships for Coding Bootcamp

Here’s 8 of the most compelling coding bootcamp scholarships we found:

Horatio Alger Career and Technical Scholarship

We Stand Together Scholarship

Women Who Code + Linux Foundation Scholarship

Brainstation Scholarships

Flatiron School Access Scholarship

Code Platoon Veteran and Military Spouse Scholarship

Lesbians Who Tech Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship

DevPoint Labs Learn to Code Scholarship

Where to Find Scholarships for Coding Bootcamp

Most scholarships are intended for college students, which can make finding coding bootcamp scholarships quite the hassle if you’re doing a simple Google search. Instead, use the list below to tailor your search.

Your Program

Your program itself likely offers scholarships. However, unlike a college education, you may not see these scholarships automatically awarded to you in your acceptance letter. You may need to contact the program directly to inquire about the opportunities.

For example, Coding Dojo offers the Coding Dojo Fresh Start Fund Scholarship for students enrolled full-time in their bootcamp. Codewise offers the Fellows Diversity Scholarship for students from underserved backgrounds, but you must be enrolled in a Code Fellows course to qualify.

Local Organizations

Local organizations — like your local Rotary group, nonprofits, and even the senior center — may offer scholarship opportunities. If you’re unsure where to look, don’t be afraid to contact the local high school for information. If they’re preparing their students for college, they may be willing to share the available scholarship opportunities with you.

Your Parents’ Employers

Some companies offer scholarships for employees and their families. Research your parents’ or guardians’ company to see what they offer, or contact them directly to inquire.

Do Service for Scholarships

Sites like DoSomething.org incentivize users to complete service by counting the hours completed as entries to scholarship opportunities. If you’re already doing service hours, it might be worthwhile to sign up for a DoSomething program to put those hours to use.

Contact Alumni Organizations

If your program has an alumni organization, consider reaching out to them. You may find these groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or via a simple Google search. In some cases, they may offer scholarships, but you’ll likely need to seek them out.

Tip: Skip Scholarship Search Websites

Most scholarship search engines, like Scholarships.com, Niche, and Fastweb, won’t be worthwhile to explore. While they compile thousands of scholarships into one place, they often don’t have much for coding bootcamp students. Their focus is primarily on college scholarships, which won’t benefit you.

What to Do if You Don’t Get Enough Scholarships

If you don’t receive enough scholarships to cover the cost of the program, don’t panic. There are other ways to cover the bill.

Ask Your Employer

If you’re currently working, review your employee handbook and benefits package. Over half of employers offer tuition assistance for furthering your education, but just 2% of employees participate in the program. In some cases, your employer may cover the entire cost of the program, so it isn’t an opportunity you want to miss out on.

Look for Employers That Cover the Cost

If your employer doesn’t offer tuition assistance, it might be worthwhile to look for one that does. Companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple offer reimbursement for qualified education expenses.

Borrow a Student Loan

Student loans should be your last resort. While it isn’t bad to borrow, you’ll need to pay the loan back with interest, so it’s best to explore all other options before taking out a loan.

If you do borrow, make sure to use a student loan search tool like Meratas to find the best loan option for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to search one-by-one via Google, and most results will show lenders that don’t work with bootcamp students. The Meratas Lender Marketplace, however, is designed specifically for trade, tech, and bootcamp students, so you won’t see loan offers you don’t qualify for.

Posted under: Career Guides, Student Success, Career Resources, Student Loans

How to Create an In-House Tuition Program

Posted on by Tyler Hawk

Trade schools and bootcamp programs are often more affordable, in comparison to traditional four-year colleges. However, affordability isn’t everything — flexible financing options is an important piece of the puzzle.

In-house tuition programs provide students with a way to pay for their education without accruing massive amounts of debt, leaving them more likely to enroll and succeed as a student.

If you don’t already have an in-house tuition program set up, here’s a few steps to create one.

What is an In-House Tuition Program?

An in-house tuition program allows students to pay their cost of attendance in installments directly to their school, rather than the traditional process of borrowing a loan from a third-party lender. Typically, students have the option to pay on a monthly or per-term basis, over the course of a specific period of time.

Why You Need an In-House Payment Plan Option

In-house tuition programs have a variety of benefits:

Greater Flexibility

For many bootcamp and alternative education programs, federal financial aid isn’t an option. This leaves students depending on scholarships, cash, and a few select private lenders to fund their education.

Providing them with an additional option — an in-house payment plan — gives them greater agency in making decisions about how to fund their education. This allows them to choose the option that is truly best for them, not just whichever option is available.

They also provide you with greater flexibility, as you can create plans yourself, rather than relying on the few options third party lenders have.

Higher Enrollment Rates

Enrollment has taken a nosedive over the past few years, and traditional tactics are falling short. Addressing the root issues behind the dip is crucial for all programs.

In fact, the number one reason students fail to enroll is financial barriers. While you can’t fork over the cash to cover the education, you can provide greater options — like tuition payment plans — that keep your program accessible to more students. The more accessible your program, the higher your enrollment rates are likely to be.

Increased Accessibility

While there are a few private lenders that work with alternative education programs, many students won’t have the credit score or income to qualify for a loan. In-house tuition programs can be created to be more flexible in terms of eligibility, giving students greater access to your program.

Greater Revenue

While the intention isn’t to profit off students, revenue is important to think about. When you partner with a single third party lender, they’ll typically offer a large discount rate. This means that they’ll get to keep a significant portion of the student’s money when they repay the loan. 

With your own in-house tuition program, you get to keep all the revenue from repayment for yourself. There’s no middle-man to take a chunk out of your profit. 

4 Steps to Set Up an In-House College Payment Plan Program

Step 1: Decide How You Want to Structure Your Payment Plan

Before crafting your custom payment plan, envision a few of the details — do you want students to pay monthly, per term, or have the option for either? How long do you envision the payment plans being? Will you offer other flexible financing options?

Step 2: Set Up a Call with Meratas

Building an in-house tuition program from scratch is complex. It’s best to opt for a robust software, like Meratas, to run something as complex as an in-house tuition plan — your beloved Excel Sheet won’t cut it.

So, schedule a call with our team — we’ll get you set up with the software needed to run an in-house tuition plan that works.

Step 3: Let The Software Take Care of the Details

As with all programs, there’s a slew of details to keep track of — how are students getting access to their payment plan options? Where is this information being hosted? Will this integrate into current administrative dashboards? How will it work with our current workflows?

Within the Meratas software, you’ll be able to house all this information in one place. From creation to repayment, the Meratas software makes it incredibly easy to run your in-house tuition program.

Step 4: Deploy Your Program

Once your custom tuition plan is created through the Meratas platform, it’s ready to be launched to your students. We’ll be there to guide you every step of the way — from talking them through the application process, to making their first payment.

Ready to take your students’ tuition into your own hands? Book a time with us here.

Posted under: School Resources, Buy Now Pay Later, Student Loans

How to Increase Enrollment as a Trucking School

Posted on by Tyler Hawk

In 2021, the truck driver shortage reached a record high of 80,000 drivers. As a trucking school, you might’ve seen this coming given the declining enrollment rates in CDL programs.

To keep enrollment on the rise, and to make a dent in the truck driver shortage, here’s 8 things you can do.

1. Acknowledge the Financial Barriers to Attendance

CDL programs range from $2,500 to $8,000 and aren’t eligible for Title IV funding. This leaves many students unable to afford enrolling. Thus, it’s important to acknowledge the financial barriers students face, while offering proper solutions.

If you can, offer robust scholarship opportunities, or partner with local organizations to create scholarship programs.

2. Offer Flexible Financing Options

If scholarships aren’t an option, consider offering flexible financing. A multi-lender marketplace, like Meratas, allows students to submit one application and receive a list of financing options, complete with both private loans and in-house payment plans.

In-house payment plans allow you to provide the funding and receive payments directly from students. This allows you to develop custom tuition plans that fit your business goals and appeal to students. When students have obtainable financing options, they’re far more likely to enroll.

3. Leverage Data on Career Outcomes

The average base salary of a truck driver is $82,053 — significantly higher than most entry-level positions. And, given the fairly low educational barrier to entry, the job placement rate tends to be higher — around 86% for some programs.

Make sure to leverage this data to your advantage. How much do alumni of your program end up making in their first year post-graduation? Who are they working for? What is your job placement rate? Use this information to make your program stand out amidst the bunch.

4. Clarify the Requirements to Receive a CDL License

In 2022, new regulations for Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) were released, leaving some aspiring truck drivers confused about the level of training they need. To simplify the process, consider adding a one-pager to your website that explains the process in detail.

This gives prospective students a better understanding of what they need to do, making it easier to feel confident in the decision to enroll. This also positions your school as a knowledgeable program, giving peace of mind about the quality of your program to prospective students.

5. Conduct Presentations in Female-Only Schools and Organizations

Women make up only 7% of all truck driversmuch lower than their overall representation in the workforce. Encouraging more women to pursue this field can lead to higher enrollment rates and help reduce the overall shortage.

If you’re having trouble reaching women, consider presenting to female-only organizations and schools. Utilize stories of female truck drivers to bring to life the experience, share the pros and cons, and help women feel confident in their decision to obtain their CDL.

6. Partner with Local High Schools

In some states, local high schools are expanding their course offerings to expose teens to the trucking industry. For example, Patterson High School in California now offers an elective course for seniors to help students learn workplace skills through hands-on training.

The instructor, Dave Dein, says, “If we don’t start promoting trucking to our youth, they only can make decisions on the information they have.” This makes teaching them about the trucking industry crucial.

Consider reaching out to the high schools near you to partner on an elective course on truck driving. If traditional schools don’t have such courses, reach out to vocational high schools in the area. They will already have the infrastructure needed to build out hands-on training.

This will expose younger students to the field and your program, helping you enroll more students and send more licensed drivers into the workforce.

7. Up Your Marketing Game

Want to reach a new, younger audience? Get on social media and lean into quirky content.

Colleges like Louisiana State University and the University of Utah have leveraged TikTok to create relatable, funny, trending content that reaches thousands of potential students each day. While a few trucking schools have made their way onto the platform, most aren’t using it to its fullest capacity.

Take inspiration from top universities on social media platforms and create a fun marketing strategy that’s bound to attract new students. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

8. Create Educational Content

The trucking industry is full of misconceptions like:

To dispel some of these myths, create educational content. Whether you share it on social media, a blog, or in the presentations you do, breaking down misconceptions will allow more people to consider trucking as a potential career.

The Broader Impact of Low Enrollment

Increasing enrollment in your trucking program isn’t just about hitting internal goals, it’s about the industry as a whole. Without proper enrollment rates, the truck driver shortage will continue to reach new heights. With fewer truck drivers on the road, supply chains will be disrupted and consumers will be impacted.

So, while focusing on increasing enrollment, think about the bigger picture. Taking just a few small actions to get more students into your program will shape the economy as a whole for years to come.

Posted under: School Resources, Tuition Options, Student Loans

Your Guide to Different Types of Federal Student Loans

Posted on May 24, 2022 by Anna Klawitter

Attending college can be difficult for many students to afford without financial assistance. With even a semester of community colleges costing thousands of dollars these days, college affordability often makes a big difference in which college you’re able to choose. Thankfully, there are several higher education loan options out there to help you pay your college bills, including scholarships, federal aid, and Income Share Agreements (ISA).

Today, we’re going to focus on federal loans. The federal loan program is robust and offers many different types of student loans. The regulations surrounding federal student loans can differ for each one as well. Though specific eligibility requirements vary, you could qualify for one or more of the following types of federal student loans for college or graduate school. But before you sign on the dotted line, it helps to know the differences between your loan options.

Below are the different types of student loans you might encounter and which one could potentially be the best fit for you.

1. Direct subsidized federal loan

These loans are for students with demonstrated financial need. The fixed interest rate for these loans is pretty low at (as of 2020) 4.53%. Similar to many other federal financial aid, the interest rate is fixed, which is especially great if you lock it in at a low rate. But, since you have to apply for a new loan every year, and the percentage does change from year to year, the rate you get on your freshman year loans will likely be different from the rate on your senior year loans.

With subsidized federal debt, the Department of Education will cover the interest that accrues on your loans while you’re enrolled at least half-time in school. For example, one year of interest on a $5,500 loan would be $277 for a class of 2019 college freshmen. If you qualify for a subsidized direct loan, the government will take care of that interest for you.

The schools to which you’ve been accepted will then detail the amount you can borrow in your college award letter.

Interest rate: 4.53% for undergraduates (2019-20 Rate)

Aggregate loan limit: $23,000 for undergraduates

Loan fee: 1.059% (Through Sept. 30, 2020)

Terms: 10 to 25 years

2. Direct unsubsidized federal loan

Unlike subsidized federal loans, a direct unsubsidized loan is also for graduate and professional students, not only undergraduate students, and loan eligibility is not based solely on financial need or merit. They’re useful if you just don’t have quite enough money on hand to pay for school but don’t qualify for financial need by government guidelines. Almost everyone is eligible for this federal student loan, as long as they’re enrolled at least half-time in school.

With unsubsidized loans, you’re on the hook for accruing interest while you’re enrolled, as well as during a grace period or while in deferment or forbearance. What’s more, the interest capitalizes when it goes unpaid, meaning that it will be added to the principal of the original loan amount.

Interest rate: 4.53% for undergraduates, 6.08% for postgraduates (2019-2020)

Aggregate loan limit: $31,000 to $57,500 (depending on your dependency status) for undergraduates, $138,500 for graduates

Loan fee: 1.059% (2019-2020)

Terms: 10 to 25 years

3. Direct Grad PLUS loan

PLUS loans, whether they’re for graduate students or parents, are unique in that they require the applicant to undergo a credit check. The Direct Grad PLUS loan, specifically, was built for graduate and professional students who have had more time to improve their credit score (unlike undergraduates entering college, who might have never held a credit card).

If you’re trying to qualify for PLUS loans but have an adverse credit history, enlisting a creditworthy cosigner can help your case. Grad PLUS loans also give the student loan borrower six months after they finish or leave school to begin making payments.

During any period when you’re not required to make payments, interest will accrue on your loan. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) when you have to start making payments. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first loan payment is due.

Interest rate: 5.30% (after July 1, 2020, and before July 1, 2021)

Aggregate loan limit: The cost of attendance minus any other financial aid

Loan fee: 4.236% (for loans disbursed Oct. 1, 2019, and Oct. 1, 2020)

Terms: 10 to 25 years

4. Direct Parent PLUS loan

This loan type is for biological, adoptive, and step-parents to support their dependent undergraduates.

A key difference between Parent PLUS loans and other types of loan options is that parents are expected to make payments while their children are in school, though they may request deferment during the loan application process.

The government does not offer a way for parents to transfer a PLUS loan to their children, but some private lenders do allow you to refinance a Parent PLUS Loan in a child’s name.

Interest rate: 5.30% (2020-2021)

Aggregate loan limit: The cost of attendance minus any other financial aid

Loan fee: 4.236% (2020-2021)

Terms: 10 to 25 years

5. Direct Consolidation Loan

Consolidating any of the federal student loan types above allows graduates (or dropouts) to pool multiple loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer. This means you can make a single monthly payment, too.

That payment would also likely be lower than your past loans, as the repayment period can be extended up to 30 years.

Although consolidation is convenient, it’s not right for everyone. It might give one borrower access to income-driven repayment options, but it might erase another’s progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Before deciding to consolidate, it’s critical to consider your own situation.

Interest rate: The weighted average of the interest rates on your existing loans.

Loan fee: n/a

Terms: Up to 30 years

Federal Student Financial Aid and the FAFSA

Am I eligible for Federal Student Aid?

In order to be eligible for federal student aid there are several requirements you must meet. Including:

How do I apply for Federal Student Aid?

Many states and colleges use the FAFSA for their financial aid programs. You can find grants and scholarships, student loans, and work-study programs through Federal Student Aid (FSA) to help pay for college or career school. Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access them. The federal deadline for the 2020-21 school year is June 30, 2021.

Create an FSA ID account if you’re going to submit your FAFSA online or track its status online. If you’re going to submit a paper FAFSA by mail and won’t be tracking its status, you won’t need an FSA ID.

Do I need a Cosigner?

Finding a cosigner for student loans can be tough but you almost never need a cosigner for federal student loans. There is one exception though, if you are a graduate student or parent applying for direct PLUS loans and have a poor credit history, you may not be eligible without an “endorser,” who is similar to a cosigner. So, if you find an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history, you can receive a direct PLUS Loan.

How do I check the status of an application?

You can check the status of your FAFSA by going to fafsa.gov and logging in. You can also check by contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center.  You can also visit the FSA Contact Us page for a detailed guide listing phone numbers and other ways to reach experts about federal student aid, student loan forgiveness, FAFSA, loans and loan consolidation, and more.

What if I’ve Exhausted all my Loan Options? 

Federal loans were established to help low to no credit borrowers afford the rising costs of college. But take the time to consider each of these different loans before deciding which one’s best for you – and only you.

If you’ve exhausted your federal loan options and need additional financing, an Income Share Agreement (ISA) could be a great option for you.

If you like the idea of an ISA – is a way of borrowing less traditional private student loans – check out these schools that offer ISAs! Although this list is not extensive, if none of these schools line up with your plans, check out our student’s page for a list of even more schools.

An ISA is a terrific tool to consider as you pursue higher education. Although it can be a wonderful option for many students, it’s not the right path for every student.

Run the numbers to ensure your projected salary won’t leave you paying more under an ISA than you would have paid to borrow traditional federal and private student loans. Ensure too that you’re okay giving up some forgiveness and assistance options that you would have gotten with federal loans. It depends on the terms offered by the ISA program.

An ISA can also be an excellent solution if your school isn’t eligible for federal loans, doesn’t work with reputable private lenders, or you want to have education protections throughout paying back your outstanding student loan debt.

Choosing your financial aid is an important decision; think about where you want to be when you graduate, specifically what career you’re thinking about, and make sure to do your research before deciding on one.

Interested in learning more about Income Share Agreements or how to fund your education with one? Check out more on the Meratas blog.

Posted under: Tuition Options, Student Loans

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