Get into best universities abroad with Prodigy Finance!

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Ahsaas Verma

Updated on May 1, 2020

Yet to Categorize | 11 min read
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Top education is the ticket to a successful career – and, of course, you want to go as far as you can. And, once you decide to pursue a post-grad degree, you’ll plunge headfirst into finding the best programme for you.
Then, you’ll see the price tag. The feeling of excitement will be replaced with a sense of fear as all the blood rushes to your feet.

 

How on earth will you pay that?

Okay, you think, no worries; I can go to the bank and get a higher education loan.

If you’re an Indian student studying abroad, you’ve already got a good idea of what that means. They’ll need your financial details, those of your parents, any property that your family owns. You’ll find the collateral and the co-signers, you think. The only real question is... what will they need?
Banks operate on strict historical parameters and that doesn’t always leave talented students with a lot of options – and that’s before considering an international education that costs substantially more than a local one.

 

But, there are other options

If you’re in a top university in US, for example, you might want to explore types of education loan available locally, disbursed in US dollars so you don’t need to play around with conversion fees. But, you’ll need an American co-signer with a solid financial history. If you’re lucky enough to have a relative or close family friend in the country, you might be able to secure one of these loans. But, keep in mind that when someone co-signs on your loan, they reduce the amount of money they can borrow. If they’re saving for a car or a house, you might just be out of luck.

And then there is Prodigy Finance. This company offers no collateral, no co-signer loans, at competitive interest rates to international students to study abroad. The loans are collectively funded by community investors who receive a financial and social return, while the student borrowers gain access to higher education.

 

So, where did Prodigy Finance come from?

Prodigy Finance seeks to fill the gaping hole left by the deficiencies of domestic banking restrictions because the company’s founders were once international applicants searching desperately for financing to attend INSEAD.
They had solid financial histories and were admitted to a top university abroad; how could they not get a loan? And, yet, it was a struggle. As they shared their stories with each other, the Prodigy Finance concept was born.

Prodigy Finance’s founders were disappointed that banks wouldn’t look at the salary they would earn after graduating; why look only at the past when MBAs from top mba universities abroad make so much more after their education?

There was the question of collateral and co-signers when they would be out of the country for at least a year. Tie that in with the inability to get a French loan because credit histories don’t follow individuals from country to country. Clearly, there was a gap in the market.

In 2007, Prodigy Finance began offering education loans to a small number of business schools and now supports over 100 top universities across the globe. Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the UK, Prodigy Finance’s loan agreement is enforceable in 150 countries and has lent to 127 nationalities to date.

Over the past ten years, Prodigy Finance has disbursed over US $323M to over 7100 students. And there are many reasons students are attracted to the platform.

At its core, Prodigy Finance believes that education should not be financially bound; it nurtures the growth of students as they fulfil their aspirations. That’s what I connect with”. Shreyas Nahata (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

 

What makes Prodigy Finance different?

Banks have been around for a long time; that makes them the norm when it comes to loans. But, banks, in general haven’t adapted to the tech-driven, cross-cultural society that we’ve become.

Companies like Prodigy Finance can differentiate by looking at the challenges banks – and their customers – face. When considering the obstacles they faced, Prodigy Finance education loan lenders chose to rethink three of the biggest issues facing international students today.

Conventional lenders

Prodigy Finance

Collateral and/ or co-signer required

Loans calculated on income potential

No credit model for international mobility

Proprietary risk models for international mobility

Many documents, slow process

Simple and fast, 100% online process

 

A key challenge for international students from emerging economies is the size of the loan they’re able to obtain from institutions in their home countries. Amounts only reflect past earnings in the local currency - which has little to do with post-graduate earning potential (or the currency and amount needed). And that’s if international educational loans are available at all.

In comparison, Prodigy Finance works closely with schools to estimate post-grad salaries for international students and has developed proprietary data-driven risk models. This allows for larger disbursements. Though the actual amount extended is dependent on an individual’s needs, abilities, and financial discipline, Prodigy Finance offers loans of up to 80% cost of attendance.

Another key differentiator for Prodigy Finance is its source of funding; loans are collectively financed by alumni, school endowments, family offices, and qualified individual investors. These investors understand the value of top education and financial challenges for international students. Driven by a social impact, the investors choose to invest in top talent attending the world’s best schools.

I did not understand why I could not get a fair loan despite my good income, excellent credit score, great job prospects, no history of defaults and even reluctantly offering high collateral”. Vinni Gosain (London Business School)
 

Can you really get an education loan online?

Applicants need only create a secure online profile to complete a quick transparent and user-friendly application process. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete the online application (no documents or fees required) with basic details to receive a provisional offer. This offer includes uniquely assessed loan terms including interest rate, loan size, and APR.

Prodigy Finance complies with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) norms. So, you need to provide documentation. Additionally, you may be asked to provide proof on any scholarships you have in hand – and proof of liquid funds in your account, or the account of anyone supporting your studies financially.

But, you do not need to post original documents or travel anywhere, as Sandeep Sharma (INSEAD) quickly discovered:

When I decided to go to Prodigy for financing, I went to the site, and it was a pretty easy process. You just need to fill the form online.” He had some reservations about the required documentation and whether his Indian materials would be accepted, but he need not have worried. And, his mind was put at ease as soon as he began the process. For him, it was a pleasure not to leave his office to complete his application. “It was not an experience you will have with a bank... it’s easy and open.”

After verifying submitted documents, Prodigy Finances issues a loan confirmation letter (that all-important sanction letter) which is accepted by both the university and the consulate or embassy where you’ll apply for your student visa.

If your loan includes living expenses, the school’s bursar office will deposit these funds into your local bank account as soon as it’s ready.

After arriving on campus, you’ll need to add your final electronic signature to the loan agreement; Prodigy Finance will then disburse the funds directly. That was definitely a pleasure for Supriya Kumar (University of Southern California): “There’s nothing to transfer back and forth; Prodigy Finance deals directly with the school”.
 

What else do you need to know about Prodigy Finance loans?

If it were not for Prodigy Finance, it would have been impossible for me to attend my dream university”. Aaditya Ganapathy (Carnegie Mellon University)

Prodigy Finance uniquely assesses each application to offer an interest rate between 5.5% and 8.5% on top of the 3-month LIBOR rate. This combination of fixed and variable interest safeguards the interests of both lenders and borrowers.

Loans are issued on an annual basis. If you enrol in a two-year course, this offers flexibility regarding loan size in the second year. You can apply for a provisional amount for the second year during the initial application process.

All applicants must demonstrate sufficient funds to complete the degree (including your loan) as Prodigy Finance believes in enhanced credit-worthiness after post-grad. Furthermore, you can start repaying your loan at any point after disbursement; Prodigy Finance doesn’t charge prepayment penalties, and charges interest only on outstanding balances.

To take a Prodigy Finance loan, you need to be enrolled in a supported school and programme. At the moment, Prodigy Finance supports over 90 business, 77 engineering and information, and 46 law and policy schools. The list of supported schools is always growing as the company continues to diversify its sources of community funds.

And, keeping community at the centre of its operations, Prodigy Finance is continuously working to enrich the experience for international students. From pre-departure assistance to numerous club activities at various schools, the community team stays in touch with students even after graduation - providing resources and support for a more fulfilling career.

Emaan Karamatullah (University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business) certainly appreciates the Prodigy Finance circle and the human approach to the borrowing process. She mentions continuing to receive messages from the operations team regarding her studies and wishing her well. “I feel it’s not your typical lender/borrower interaction, it’s definitely a lot more personable, and I really like that.”

You too can stay in touch with Prodigy Finance by signing up. Or, learn more by reading the blog.

 

Key Parameters

Prodigy Finance

Other Lenders

Source of funds

Community investors

Bank

Loan terms assessment

Expected income after post-grad

Collateral/Parents' income

Collateral required

No

Some collateral – up to 100%

Cosigner required

No

Yes

Early Repayments

Anytime

1 year after graduation

Interest Rate

5.5% - 8.5% + LIBOR

10%+

Variable Base Rate

3-month LIBOR

MCLR

APR range*

7.49% - 10.71%

Upwards of 10%

Loan Amount

Up to 80% of cost of attendance

Depends on collateral

Currency

USD / GBP / EUR

INR

Interest calculated on

Loan balance outstanding

Loan balance outstanding

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Always provided

-

Scholarship Award potential**

$10,000

-

Process

Fully online

In person

Time to receive a quote

30 minutes online app

> 1 week

Transparency

Provisional letter

-

Processing time

1-4 weeks

> 4 weeks

Visa Letter

Yes

Yes

Interest accrual start date

on disbursement to school

Possibly before disbursement

Interest charged on

Amount disbursed

Amount disbursed

Administration Fee

2.5% of loan (one time)

Varies

Admin Fee charged on

Date of disbursement

Before confirmed loan letter

Any payments before EMI

No

Usually yes

FX conversion costs

No

Yes

Annual flexibility

Year 2 application

Entire loan at one go

Disbursed to school by

Prodigy Finance

Student/Lender

Welcome-to-Campus kit

Sim cards, transport service, and more

Usually no

On-campus Presence?

Yes

No

Community Benefits

Career support; networks, events

No

* For 21 month US programme, 10-year repayment period, 3-month USD LIBOR 1.30%

** US / UK loan approved borrowers automatically eligible, 10 awards of $10k each


Rishabh Goel is the Country Manager for India at Prodigy Finance. He studied Economics & Engineering at BITS and did his Masters in Management at London Business School. He has helped Indians excel at GMAT/GRE and mentored students to attend top schools globally.

Prodigy Finance provides borderless postgraduate student loans to international students to attend a top school. These loans are collectively funded by a community of alumni, institutional investors and qualified private investors. The student borrowers gain access to higher education that they might not otherwise be able to finance.

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