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

How to Increase Enrollment as a Trucking School

Posted on May 8, 2023 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

How to Pay for Trade School

Posted on by Tyler Hawk

The average vocational program will run you over $30,000 — which isn’t a small price to pay. If you’re in the process of determining how to pay for trade school, consider these 6 avenues for footing the bill.


Scholarships are free money, meaning you don’t have to pay them back. Because of this, you’ll want to maximize the number of scholarships you apply to and accept.

First, contact the trade school you plan to attend and ask about any institutional scholarships they may offer. Then, look for scholarships offered in your local area. Both will be far less competitive than most scholarships you find online.

If that doesn’t yield results, search websites such as Scholarships.com and Bold.org. These websites are, in essence, aggregators that compile massive lists of scholarship opportunities. That said, they’ll likely be more competitive in comparison to the aforementioned opportunities, so you’ll need to have a strong application.

When searching, try to narrow your search to specific aspects of your life. For example, try searches like:

The more narrow the eligibility criteria, the smaller the applicant pool is likely to be, and the better your chances are of receiving the scholarship.


Like scholarships, grants are also dealt on a no-strings-attached basis, meaning you don’t have to pay them back either. As you can imagine, you’ll want to maximize how many grants you can rack up, too.

Most grants will come directly from the federal government. To access these, you’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you’re eligible, you’ll receive notice in your financial aid award letter from the program(s) you apply to.

Sometimes, non-government entities also offer grants. These are typically need-based, meaning you’ll have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible to receive one. You can find these grants by simply searching online.

Federal Aid

After submitting the FAFSA, you’ll receive a financial aid award letter from the trade school(s) you apply to. Within this letter, you’ll see whether you qualify for any federal aid, which can come in the form of grants, work study, or federal student loans.

If you receive a federal student loan, it’s wise to accept it, but only after accepting gift aid like scholarships and grants. This is because federal student loans tend to have lower interest rates, more flexible repayment options, and the potential for loan forgiveness — three elements private student loans may lack.

Note that programs need to be accredited to be eligible to receive federal student aid. Make sure to consider this before selecting which program to attend.

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

If you’re currently employed, ask your employer about the potential for tuition reimbursement. Believe it or not, a wide range of employers will pay for your studies — some even paying 100% of the bill.

When you inquire about this, make sure to cover all the bases, asking questions like:

Private Student Loans

After exhausting the above options, consider private student loans. Private student loans are offered by private entities such as banks and other financial institutions. They each come with their own unique interest rates, repayment plans, and terms.

To find a private student loan that works for you, submit a free application here.

Parent Loans

If you’re unable to qualify for a private student loan on your own, consider asking a parent or guardian to borrow a parent loan on your behalf. Like traditional private student loans, parent loans are offered by private organizations to parents to fund their child’s education.

Legally, your parent will be the sole individual responsible for repaying the loan, but you can contribute to repayment as you would with a traditional private loan. That said, keep in mind that some private lenders might not offer parent loans for trade schools, so you’ll need to search carefully.

Final Thoughts

When paying for any educational institution, it’s important to remember the following order of events: free aid (scholarships, grants) → earned money (work study, tuition reimbursement) → borrowed money (loans).

By accepting free and earned money first, you’ll be able to minimize the amount you need to borrow, which results in less student loan debt.

Posted under: Tuition Options, Buy Now Pay Later, Income Share Agreements

ASU + GSV Summit 2022 Key Takeaways

Posted on April 15, 2022 by Darius Goldman

This past week education leaders gathered in San Diego for the annual ASU GSV Summit.

The ASU + GSV Summit features a diverse lineup of thought leaders who shared firsthand stories of inspiration and innovation. This conference brought together entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts eager to start the dialogue necessary for success. From K-12 to Higher Ed, it was cool to see so many people partner together to find solutions to problems. My team and I were thrilled to join everyone, learn from each other, and share the unique insights that building Meratas has given us. 

A Brief Background

The ASU GSV Summit is one of the leading educational technology conferences and started in 2010. The summit is a collaboration between ASU (Arizona State University) and GSV (Global Silicon Valley). With 12 years of conferences, the summit always connects some of the brightest minds in the EdTech space.

The summits are full of actionable insights, human-centered connections, transformational experiences, and unexpected discoveries. The attendee list grows every year and boasts an average of 15,000 attendees. With so many thought leaders in the education space in one place, there was a lot we took away from this conference.

Make Financial Aid Make Sense

Why are stories like these so common?

“I didn’t know what to expect the first time I stepped foot in a college financial aid office. I assumed it would be the easiest part of college. Who knew I would be bawling in front of a stranger, telling them about one of the most humiliating and heartbreaking experiences of my life?” – Lizzy Shoben

“My financial-aid officer didn’t understand why I worked so many jobs or why I picked up even more hours at times.” – Anthony Abraham Jack

We don’t just need to help students have a better financial experience; we need to find ways to teach the people in the financial aid offices how to better present the options students have and how to use the tools at their disposal. For example, students today are confused when they are signing up for loans. They’re tired of trying to make ends meet, and they’re tired of the stress of not knowing what exactly they’re signing up for. So we need to re-educate educators to explain financial aid in a way that clearly presents its value.

There are fewer and fewer students going to college, and when a student’s financial aid is confusing and if they aren’t options that work for their specific situation, they will drop out. There has to be better financial literacy training for students. It could be at the high school level or offered as a free college pre-requisite class or training. Either way, students need to fully understand their financial options and which is the best option. Part of the issue with alternative options to student loans is that students aren’t familiar with them, so students are confused and aren’t set up for financial success.

If students are well prepared for their financial journey, they will be better set up for success in their academic journey.  No student should have to forgo higher education because they’re confused or worried about affording their payments.

Broadening access to education and enhancing career mobility for all students is crucial so we can better prepare workers for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. 

Students Need to be Career Prepared and have Access To Additional Options

“ A national labor shortage has benefitted workers in the form of higher pay and greater agency in choosing an employer. In turn, employers —especially those with urgent shortages in essential roles— are seeking to differentiate. “They realize the difference they can offer to workers are skills, and workers don’t ask for skills. Instead, they ask for career advancement,” –  Romer Carlson explained at the Summit. 

The demand for career advancement drives a need among working adults to acquire new skills and competencies. At the same time, institutions are working to fill their seats. By meeting that demand together, employers can strengthen talent attraction and retention, articulate career mobility pathways, and address skills gaps by offering access to education through better financial options.

Romer Carlson also pointed out that this is a key area where major employers can make a huge difference. “…the striking thing that we find in our work with employers on one side and university partners on the other is that, at some level, the average CEO now has more insight into the skills we need five years from now than then a university president has access to and that’s a problem. We need to get that data available to everybody.”

Students Need More Options

Offering students more options to pay for their education at your institution is crucial to both schools’ and students’ success. The more options students are given and the better they understand these options, including which is the best option for where they are in life, the more likely they are to pursue their education of choice and have a better overall experience. 

The ASU GSV summit allowed me and my team to learn from the innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, and changemakers from around the country, and I’m thankful for that. By gathering the top minds and leading companies from across the industry, untapped potential is discovered, trends are identified, and innovators find inspiration for changing the future of their business.

 My team and I at Meratas are on a mission to unlock opportunities for those looking to upskill or start a new education. If you’re interested in helping your students do this, check out our Partner’s Page to learn more!

Posted under: News and Updates, Tuition Options

6 Simple Ways Schools Can Increase College Enrollment

Posted on January 21, 2022 by Tyler Hawk

We get it – the stats aren’t the most motivating. College enrollment dropped 4.7% between spring 2021 and 2022, and many experts are suggesting that this decline is here to stay.

As an institution, however, simply making peace with it isn’t enough. Having low numbers year after year isn’t sustainable, and it’s crucial to set up your game plan for keeping enrollment as high as possible.

If you’re curious about how to increase enrollment, here’s 6 simple steps to help you get there.

What’s Inside:

#1: Up Your Marketing Game

We know you’ve heard it before, but hear us out. The marketing world is changing, and it’s important to keep up.

Put yourself in a potential student’s shoes — what type of content would resonate with you? If your strategy feels stale and you aren’t excited to launch the content, your audience will likely feel the same way.

Instead, look to institutions having success online and mirror what they do. Take the University of Georgia and Baylor University for example. By hopping on platforms where their future students exist and creating content that is both entertaining and informative, they’ve been able to grow a presence online while attracting new applicants.

#2: Get Comfortable With Video

It’s official — we’re living in the era of short-form video. With the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, more and more people have grown comfortable with absorbing bits of information through easy-to-digest video content. For schools, this creates an incredible opportunity to leverage video content to attract and retain new students.

It’s what platforms are prioritizing in their algorithms, which means your content is likely to perform better, too. Some studies even report that video content performs 1200% better in comparison to other formats. This comes as no surprise given that Instagram favors Reels in its algorithm, and LinkedIn video content gets nearly 5 times the engagement.

Plus, customers retain 95% of the information they watch in a video, and 37% of them watch videos all the way to the end. By capturing more students’ attention, they’re more likely to remember your content and your institution when it comes time to enroll. 

If you’re finding that static content like newsletters, traditional social media posts, and static ads aren’t generating the results you want, try implementing video content into your strategy.

#3: Make It Easier for Students to Get Financing

Creating a killer TikTok strategy will help in creating a well-rounded strategy to increase enrollment, but it won’t address the root issue — a lack of flexible financing options. Reality is, the cost of an education has grown tremendously, and wages aren’t mirroring this growth.

This leaves 38% of students opting to not enroll, simply due to their fears around the cost of an education. While you can’t hand them a check, you can provide them with flexible financing options that make affording that cost much more simple.

A lender marketplace, like Meratas, requires minimal setup and upkeep but generates long term results. Unlike the traditional loan process — which requires students to hop from site to site in search of a loan — Meratas provides you with the all-in-one solution. Students get access to an entire marketplace built for them, with a variety of loan options to choose from.

When students have the means to afford the education they desire, and when they experience less friction in acquiring a loan, they’re far more likely to convert into a fully enrolled student.

#4: Improve Visibility with SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of getting your institution’s web pages to be recognized and ranked by Google. Once you’ve got a solid SEO strategy down, prospective students will be able to find your website when searching for related questions like “Best certificate program for tech” or “Top trade school near me.” 

If your website isn’t ranking in searches, however, it’ll make it significantly harder for eager students to find your institution when looking online. Nearly 25% percent will click the first link that shows up, leaving your institution’s pages unclicked and unnoticed.

While implementing an SEO strategy can take a bit of legwork upfront, you can reap the benefits of it for years to come. 

#5: Secure More Reviews from Students

Think of enrolling like booking a luxury vacation — you likely wouldn’t book a hotel or an excursion without checking the reviews. Before spending your hard-earned cash, you want to ensure the experience will be enjoyable, worth your money, and legitimate.

Choosing where to enroll for an education is similar. Prospective students wonder what the program is really like, whether other students have enjoyed their experience there, and if the program will be worth shelling out a few thousand dollars for.

To bridge the gap, encourage students — both current students and alumni — to submit honest reviews about their experience with the program. They can do this through Google My Business, sites like Niche, or directly through your website. Then, incorporate their statements in marketing materials, such as social media posts and on your website.

#6: Lower Your Response Times with Automated Messaging

Support throughout the enrollment process is key, and today’s students expect speedy response times to their inquiries. If you’re taking a bit longer to respond, it might leave students feeling unsupported, which doesn’t give them the warm and fuzzy feeling they’d prefer to have when making their enrollment decisions.

Instead, implement automation software that lets prospective students know you’ve received their question, are working on an answer for them, and will get back to them as soon as possible. The more supported they feel, the more likely they are to think fondly of your institution when it comes time to select where they want to enroll.

Posted under: Tuition Options, Buy Now Pay Later

Pay For a New Career in 4 Payments

Posted on January 14, 2022 by Anna Klawitter

Of the roughly 50% of employed Americans who intend to make career changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic 33% are interested in changing industries.

It’s difficult for hard-working students and career-changers to get into the new careers they want because of the ever-increasing cost of education. 

Many times students analyze the debt they’ll have to take on to upskill or get a new career and opt to skip higher education altogether, making it harder for them to find lasting careers that help them build the life they want and the fulfillment in their careers that they need.

What if there was a better way to pay for education? What if you could use a type of payment you’re probably already using  to pay for the training to get a better career? 

1. What is Buy Now, Pay Later? 

“Raise your hand, who else has an online shopping problem?” There’s a couple of us over here at Meratas that definitely do…

If you’ve shopped anywhere online, you’ve probably heard of companies like Affirm and Klarna that let you pay for products in installments, instead of upfront.

You’ve probably seen this offer—

“Buy Now, Pay Later!” Just four installments of $19.99!

Basically Buy Now Pay later is structured so that you’ll pay an initial part of your full shopping trip and then pay the rest in 4 or so payments over a period of time. (Typically 6 weeks.) 

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.

“43% of the U.S. adult population, some 111 million consumers, say they are interested in using BNPL solutions to pay for big-ticket service purchases. Travel, remodeling and medical expenses top the list.” According to a study by AWS on Buy Now Pay Later models. 

So what does that have to do with education or a new career? 

2. How to use BNPL to launch your career

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.

So what if there was a way to use BNPL to pay for your education? 

At Meratas, we took BNPL and created a way to use it towards launching your career!

Learn Now, Pay Later

The Pay in 4 is a Meratas tuition plan that separates tuition payments into four installments over the course of several months. Pay in 4 was created using Buy Now Pay Later models. You pay for your education in 4 installments over a period of time. (Varies depending on your program.) 

We partner with programs, bootcamps, and higher ed institutions that will allow you to use the same payment method you use to buy a computer or new watch to pay for your education and build your career!

You’re probably already using BNPL for your everyday purchases. Instead of taking out a traditional private student loan, why not use that same payment method to pay for your education and build your career?

Are you looking to start a new career and invest in yourself in 2022? Meratas can help – check out our Students Page for more info on how we can help you get the career you’ve always wanted!

Posted under: Tuition Options

6 Ways to Pay for a Coding Bootcamp

Posted on March 7, 2023 by Tyler Hawk

Coding bootcamps aren’t cheap — the average program will run you around $13,580 in tuition alone. If shelling out the cash upfront isn’t an option, we don’t blame you.

Here’s six ways to pay for a coding bootcamp without dipping into your pockets.

Apply to Scholarships First

Scholarships are free money, which means you never have to pay them back. So, before you pursue any other options, apply to as many scholarships as you can.

Here’s a few places to look:

  1. Your program itself
  2. Course Report
  3. BestColleges
  4. Scholarships360
  5. The Society for Women Engineers

Keep in mind that many bootcamp scholarships will be need-based, meaning you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re unable to afford the program otherwise. If you don’t fall into the threshold considered for need-based aid, narrow your search to focus on just merit-based aid.

If you don’t secure any scholarships your first year, keep applying throughout your program. There are tons of scholarships available that aren’t exclusively for first-year students. And, many students don’t know they can apply beyond their first year, so competition for these funds tends to be better.

Look at Your Employer’s Benefits

Many employers offer to cover a portion of tuition for job-related training. While some will only cover a small portion of the cost, others will reimburse you for the entire expense.

Keep in mind that these aren’t always advertised openly, so don’t be afraid to ask your boss directly. Some companies don’t offer it typically, but may be willing to if you’ve been a valuable worker they want to retain.

If your current employer doesn’t offer these benefits, consider applying with a company that does. For example, Verizon offers free technical training through their Skill Forward program.

Use the GI Bill If You Have It

If you’re a veteran with access to GI Bill benefits, make sure to use them. There are a variety of coding bootcamps that accept GI Bill funds, which would save you quite a bit.

To determine which programs do, use the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Comparison tool. Here’s a few schools that do accept GI Bill money to kick off your search:

  1. The Flatiron School
  2. General Assembly
  3. Coding Dojo – San Jose
  4. Sabio Enterprises

Look Into Private or Personal Loans

If an income-share agreement isn’t an option, or if you’d prefer a more traditional loan, consider a private or personal loan. Keep in mind that most private lenders don’t work with coding bootcamps, but some do — they just might be more challenging to find.

Personal loans are also an option — just beware of the interest rate. Average personal loan rates range from 9.30% to 22.16%, which can skyrocket your overall debt total quickly.

Before agreeing to any loan, always compare your options through Meratas first. This will allow you to see all your options in one place to verify which loan option is best for you. Then, you can complete the application within the Meratas platform, keeping the entire loan process in one place.

Consider Crowdfunding

While asking for support from others doesn’t always feel comfortable, crowdfunding can be a successful way to pay for your degree. Platforms like GoFundMe allow you to set up a virtual fundraiser, share the page with friends and family, and accept donations. While they do take a cut from the money you receive, it helps centralize the fundraising process.

What About Federal Financial Aid?

Unfortunately, coding bootcamps aren’t eligible to receive federal financial aid. While this will save you from the headache that is the FAFSA process, it’ll mean you need to look elsewhere for funding. If you’re approached by anyone stating that you need to submit your federal financial aid forms or that you’re eligible for federal aid, it’s likely a scam.

Other Things to Consider

Before investing in a costly degree, it’s important to assess the potential return on your investment. Ask yourself:

If you aren’t quite sure, it might be best to rethink where you plan to enroll. Also, consider whether the program offers a tuition guarantee. Programs like The Flatiron School offer a full tuition refund if you don’t find a qualifying role within six months of graduating. While most schools don’t do this, it’s a nice layer of protection to have in your back pocket.

Posted under: School Resources, Tuition Options

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