? Forget the Banks, Use Peer-to-Peer Lending For Obtaining Student Loans
Forget the Banks, Use Peer-to-Peer Lending For Obtaining Student Loans
Overview of Peer to Peer Lending
With the cost of college tuition rising every year, the government can no longer provide enough support to cover all college expenses. In addition with the ongoing credit crisis, funding for student loans given by banks and other private institutions has nearly dried up or become inaccessible. In the instances where students can obtain private funding, interest rates can be as high as 20%. Consequently, students are desperately looking for other sources of funding for their education.
A relatively new alternative to government and banking loans is peer-to-peer lending (aka p2p lending, social lending). With peer-to-peer lending, borrowers can get loans directly from a pool of private lenders. For students, peer-to-peer lending offers the promise of lower interest rates in comparison to traditional bank loans. The concept of peer to peer lending has been around for some time. It was initially used for funding micro loans for entrepreneurs in developing nations to start businesses. With almost perfect timing, peer-to-peer lending companies have emerged to offer help to those in need of funding, whether for debt consolidation, starting a small business, or going to college.
Currently, there are two peer-to-peer lending companies focusing primarily on student loans: Fynanz and GreenNote.
Fynanz offers repayment plans over five, seven, or ten years depending on the dollar amount of the loan. Like a normal student loan, students receive a grace period while in school and can delay principal payments for up to 2 years after graduating. With Fynanz, students can expect to receive a higher interest rate since lenders are guaranteed 50% to 100% of the principal if the borrower defaults.
GreenNote loans have a fixed interest rate that is equivalent to the current Federal Unsubsidized Stafford interest rate at 6.8%, which is a much lower interest rate than private or bank loans. They give students a grace period of six months after graduation, and repayment is made monthly over a ten-year period. No credit approval or credit score is needed since agreements are made between the students and people they know.
Virgin Money USA is another option for receiving loans if the student has a network of friends or family willing to lend money. Virgin Money simply acts as an intermediary by making the loan official and removing the emotional aspect of lending money to friends or family. Since the loan is between friends or family, the loan terms are completely flexible. The student and lender decide upon the interest rate and payments, not Virgin Money. Expect to pay $199 to $299 to setup the loan, and an additional $9 per month service fee.
Risk for Student Borrowers
For students, there are no real risks with peer to peer lending. Either the students receive funding or they are denied funding, like any other bank or federal loan they might apply for. A student’s loan will be funded if enough investors choose to fund it and the money is received up front. Lenders choose to fund loans based on the attractiveness of the student’s profile. Naturally, if the student has a high GPA, attends a prestigious school, and is majoring in a lucrative field, lenders will be fiercely competing to fund the loan. Students without stellar profiles can try soliciting funding from friends, family, or colleagues. Allowing Virgin Money USA or GreenNote to manage the loan will make the process official and thus be a more attractive investment to the student’s friends and family.
What’s the verdict?
Peer to peer lending is an excellent option for students in need of money. Overall, peer to peer lending offers an alternative but secure method for obtaining funding for college expenses beyond what federal loans, grants, or scholarships can cover.