What is Prodigy Finance?
Prodigy Finance provides borderless postgraduate student loans to international students to attend top universities. Loans given are without any collateral or cosigner, and it relies on data to understand students’ enhanced financial ability to repay back after their elite education.
Over the past ten years, Prodigy Finance has supported over 7100 students, disbursing more than $325M. We have helped over 2000 Indians study abroad at top schools such as Carnegie Mellon University.
Three of our borrowers joined us for a Q&A discussion on their Prodigy Finance experience.
Tejas Bisen is Currently a Masters in Information Systems Management(MISM) Student at Carnegie Mellon University(CMU). He studied Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering at Mumbai University. He had six and a half years’ experience in the IT sector and was working as a Senior Consultant at Capgemini, helping various global clients plan, build, and execute their IT projects.
Sachchidanand Deo is pursuing a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University with concentration in System Software track. He recently interned at Mentor: A Siemens Business, where he is working this semester too. He worked as an Associate Software Engineer with Accenture in Mumbai after a Bachelor of Engineering degree from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering in Mumbai, where he was Chairperson of the student branch of IEEE.
Aaditya Ganapathy is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, pursuing Master of Information Systems Management. He worked as a software engineer for two years with Sagitec Solutions in Pune after earning his Bachelors in Information Technology from Dr. M.G.R. University in Chennai. Aaditya is passionate about software development and programming.
Prodigy Finance Reviews by Students | Q&A
- Why did you choose to study abroad, specifically at your current school?
TB: Having worked for six and a half years in the IT sector, I realised that I wanted to solve even bigger problems in the IT world at a global level. To prepare myself for this pursuit, I wanted to hone my skills from one the best programmes and colleges in USA. I researched masters programmes that were suitable for sharpening my skills and wanted one that was ranked among the best; I zeroed in on the MISM program from CMU.
SD: I wanted to study abroad to get more exposure to global education. I strongly believe that a masters abroad is enriching not only in terms of an educational and career point of view, but also because it contributes to your overall personality development. There were many reasons behind choosing Columbia. It is an Ivy League university, and probably one of the best in world when it comes to Electrical Engineering. I wanted to compete with the best of my field and learn under one of the best professors. Not to mention, New York is a great city to stay in, and only adds to the already enriching experience that is Columbia.
AG: Although developing software using cutting-edge technologies was exciting, I had an urge to explore the functional areas of these technologies. Also, having worked with the veterans in the software industry, I realised that the knowledge I acquired through my undergraduate degree was just the tip of the iceberg and an advanced education was essential to excel in my profession. CMU gave me the freedom to choose the perfect blend of technology and management subjects. I was convinced that the MISM course at CMU would not only help me hone my technological skills, but also familiarise me with the world of management. Thus, I chose CMU.
- International education can be financially challenging. Was it a concern for you?
TB: Yes, finances are always a challenge with international education, especially if you’re targeting a degree from a top-ranked university. I wanted to fund my own higher education, and finance was one of my primary concerns. Banks in India do offer loans for education at good universities, but they need a co-signer or collateral (sometimes both) for the loan. I didn’t want such a loan.
SD: Yes, it was challenging as staying in Manhattan was super costly. Plus, Columbia has mammoth tuition expenses.
AG: Yes - especially when you’re attending a premier institution like Carnegie Mellon University. The cost of attendance goes well above $100,000. For someone who hails from a middle-class family in India, it’s almost impossible to afford such an education - unless you’re ready to mortgage your property and pay exorbitant interest rates to Indian banks.
- Where did you learn about Prodigy Finance?
TB: I learned about Prodigy Finance from my friend who was pursuing his MBA abroad. His classmates had taken a loan from Prodigy Finance and were happy with the loan and its process. With finance being my top priority while deciding on my masters, my friend advised me to have look at Prodigy Finance for loans and I am really glad that I took his advice.
SD: When I was pondering my available options, one of my friends suggested that I look up Prodigy Finance. That night, I went ahead and checked out their website and figured out that they do offer loans to international students.
AG: Generally, when you receive acceptance from your dream university you are expected to be jubilant. But in my case, I was rather worried about affording my education. I searched through various sources online to find funding opportunities for my graduate education. I landed in the education loan section in Yocket, and that’s when I stumbled on Prodigy Finance which helps students fund their graduate education.
- How was the application process for the loan?
TB: The application process was simple, and everything is online which made the application process a breeze
Normally, when a student is admitted to a college, a lot of time is spent on arranging for loans from banks. On Prodigy Finance’s website, I just entered my admit details along with my GRE score and received my provisional offer within a few hours of applying - which was phenomenal!.
SD: When I checked the website of Prodigy Finance, I figured out that there was no option to apply for a loan when it comes to my branch at Columbia University as till that moment they weren’t providing loans to engineering students at Columbia. Hence, I decided to drop a mail to Prodigy Finance, asking them about the possibility of a loan in such a scenario. Within a few days, I got an email from Michael Hollis, who is a Relationship Manager and also a Columbia alumnus, informing me that Prodigy Finance is planning to add an option of providing loans to electrical engineering students at Columbia. He asked me to go to my department and collect information about my total estimated expenses over the 1.5 years course and get back to them, so that they can add the Columbia University Electrical Engineering option on their website. I went ahead and talked to my department and asked them estimated total expenses and then based on that information and my I20 info, Prodigy Finance updated its website. After that, I applied for the loan - it got approved within 15 days, and I received my conditional approval letter from Prodigy Finance. I wrote about this whole journey in a Facebook post, that can be found here
AG: The application process for the loan was completely online. The user interface was very friendly, and whenever I had any doubts regarding the application, I wrote to Prodigy Finance and I would receive a reply within a few hours. I filled out a few forms and, instantly, I had my provisional loan offer. Once I accepted my provisional offer, I had to submit a few documents and ta-da, I had my final loan approval. The whole process took less than a week to complete.
- Prodigy Finance does not have a physical office in India. Which channels did you use to interact with the Prodigy Finance team?
TB: Without a physical office in India, I was concerned, at first, that it would be really difficult if I was stuck somewhere in the loan process. But, I didn’t have any problems as the team was very accessible. For instance, I could contact the Prodigy Finance team on WhatsApp with my queries and I always received an answer. If I had any issues with my loan process on the portal, I could just raise a ticket and it was promptly acted upon and I received the answers I needed.
SD: The Prodigy Finance team is highly responsive when it comes to e-mails. My first point of contact was always their Columbia Relationship Manager, Michael Hollis, and I even had a Skype chat with him once apart from e-mail conversations. Also, the information desk of Prodigy Finance is great when it comes to queries and hence I used that as a secondary point of contact. Besides, Prodigy Finances conducts frequent information sessions in major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi etc.
AG: One of the perks of borrowing from a fintech company is that you don’t have to physically visit their offices or wait in long queues to get your work done. This said, it takes some time for the people to digest the fact that they are not physically present here, in India. But, the Prodigy Finance team was always available for interaction and answering queries. They organised meetups and chat session across India. Also, their support team (firstname.lastname@example.org) was very approachable and proactive in responding to queries.
- How challenging was it to provide the documents required for confirming the loan?
TB: Based on my information, the portal gave me the list of documents that I needed to submit. All of the documents could be scanned and uploaded onto the portal. These were then verified by the Prodigy Finance team, and if there were any problems with a document, the team emailed me with the exact issue.
I was facing a challenge getting my credit score document from another country (eventually I did get it, but the credit score was in a different language and the company had no credit score for me). I raised a ticket with the team, giving them a valid explanation about the document, and they promptly dropped it from my required documents list.
SD: It wasn’t difficult at all to provide them documents for India. The CIBIL report is easy to obtain. The financial support form and documents aren’t difficult to provide either if you have the necessary amount ready in your bank - it can be from any relative (not necessarily parent), which simplifies the procedure even further. However, it is difficult to obtain them for the second year as once you come to United States, getting the CIBIL report from Indian government authorities is a little tedious process.
AG: The document requirements provided by Prodigy Finance were pretty straight forward. It was easy to get most of the documents requested by Prodigy Finance except for the CIBIL Score (credit history) as I did not have any credit history. But a screenshot affirming that I had no credit history was accepted and I was through the documentation process within a couple of days.
- Prodigy Finance does not charge for a confirmed loan letter. Did you use it for your I-20 and US visa? How was your experience?
TB: Yes, I used the printout for confirmed loan letter from Prodigy Finance for my I-20 and visa without any issues. For the I-20, I sent my provisional loan offer letter since my programme was starting in two months. I didn’t face any issue getting my I-20 and I had my confirmed loan letter before my visa interview.
During the visa interview, the visa officer asked me how I was arranging finances and I promptly showed the officer the letter from Prodigy Finance and the visa interview went just fine.
SD: I didn’t use the confirmed loan letter for my I20 or visa, but a couple of my friends used it and they had positive reviews. However, I did carry it with me in case the interviewer asked about the loan letter
AG: Yes, I used the confirmation letter provided by Prodigy Finance to obtain my I-20 and visa. Again, there were no obstacles in getting my I-20 and visa with the final loan letter from Prodigy Finance. I also know people who received their I-20 forms and visas using the provisional offer from Prodigy Finance.
- Did you have any challenges to ensure disburse of loan amount to the school?
TB: No. Since Prodigy Finance directly works with the school, I had no issues with the disbursement of the loan. In my case, the school received the fees after the due date, but I wasn’t charged any late fees.
SD: No, I had no issues at all.
AG: Nope, the loan amount was disbursed to my college on time before the payment due date
- Prodigy Finance has a US office that visits university campuses and meets students. Did you meet a Prodigy Finance representative, and was it beneficial?
TB: Yes, I meet Zack Hirschfeld who visited the CMU Pittsburgh campus from their New York office. The meeting was useful because I had all my queries resolved face-to -ace with him and the networking and training sessions they conduct are really helpful.
SD: Yes. After landing in the States, I had coffee chat with their Columbia Relationship Manager several times. Besides him, I have met a couple of other representatives of Prodigy Finance, and irrespective of whether I have questions or not, it is always a pleasure to have a coffee with them at Joes Coffee at the Columbia University campus.
AG: Yes, I had an opportunity to meet Zack, who is a part of Prodigy Finance team in USA. We had a great interaction and discussed how Prodigy Finance has been helping students across universities in US and how can it improve on serving the students even better.
- What would be your top pros and cons for borrowing with Prodigy Finance?
- The process is simple and straightforward. Taking a loan from Prodigy Finance will save a lot of valuable time that would be spent running around local banks.
- Prodigy Finance works directly with schools. Once the loan is approved, we can rest assured that the loan will be disbursed directly to the school.
- Prodigy uses APR for interest rate which can be a little difficult to understand, since every country has its own way of defining interest rates.
- I guess the biggest pro one is that you don’t need a co-borrower or mortgage to get a loan from Prodigy Finance. This makes the process much simpler and you don’t need to depend on parents or someone else to pursue your dream of higher education.
- The application process is easy and doesn’t require tedious documentation.
- The second-year application process can be made easier - if you have a second year loan conditionally approved. For example: I needed to put in another application for the second year, whereas they could have allow me to skip that and go directly to the verification step, but I believe this can be easily fixed.
- The loans have extremely compelling interest rates and that too, without collateral, co-signers or co-borrowers.
- Both the loan disbursement and repayment are in USD. There’s no need to worry about currency fluctuation and exchange rates.
- Not all courses and colleges are currently eligible for funding.
Note: This is a sponsored article. The content of this article is published as is provided by the author without any moderation by Yocket.
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