Many 2020 presidential candidates have made student debt a major talking point—and for good reason. According to Forbes, 45 million Americans currently owe over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.
In the realm of business school, Bloomberg Businessweek notes that nearly 30 percent of MBA students at top MBA programs report taking on a minimum of $100,000 in debt. When one stops to consider that the median starting pay for MBAs from top schools ranges from $80,000 to $140,000, it doesn’t take much math to see what debt means for most graduates.
If this predicament hits close to home, dear reader, you’re not alone. There is a new option to help minimize the liability you take on for a business education. LeverEdge takes advantage of group buying power in order to negotiate a reduction in students’ loan rates.
What is LeverEdge?
LeverEdge aggregates student loan needs, attracting rates better than those provided directly by lenders. LeverEdge then takes advantage of competition among banks and analyzes the subsequent deals that become available. As a result, LeverEdge is able to get members significantly reduced interest rates and creates the most value for its student members.
In just two years of operation, this innovative business has helped MBA students with $100 million in loans, resulting in $20 million in savings as compared to federal loan options available.
The Story Behind the Savings
Nikhil Agarwal, Co-Founder at LeverEdge and current MBA student at Harvard Business School, explains the impetus for the venture:
“I applied for loans at several lenders. I had a great credit score, was going to a great school and had a co-signer that had income. But, the rates I received didn’t reflect the low risk of lending to someone like me. So I set on the quest to figure out how to get lower rates.”
Agarwal knew he deserved better interest rates but couldn’t quite figure out how to get the banks to make a reduction.
LeverEdge co-founder Chris Abkarians explains how he worked in management consulting before business school, focusing on negotiating TV licensing deals at streaming giant Netflix. Chris’ experience taught him that no price is what it’s set to be, and that groups with aligned interests wield buying power. “This is what made me attracted to the idea.”
The result? 700 students got behind Agarwal’s and Abkarians’ brainchild in 2018, the first year of operations. In 2019, LeverEdge grew to serve 2,000 students across the U.S. “Saving each student around $13,000 on their combined $100 million debt,” according to the Wall Street Journal, LeverEdge has forged a new model in bargaining for student loans.
A Member-Driven Model
It costs students nothing to join LeverEdge, and interested individuals are under no obligation to take a loan negotiated with lenders. Moreover, lenders are evaluated for customer service and ease of application as part of the vetting process. Leverage is available to answer any questions along the way and ensure members receive rates and terms in line with their expectations. One student member highlights, “The deal I was offered blew all of my other options completely out of the water and has saved me thousands of dollars.”
LeverEdge: The Numbers
LeverEdge rallies increasingly large groups of students in order to secure savings with the banks. In the process, over 10% of all full-time, on-campus MBA students benefit from the innovative service. This impressive show of strength includes 40% of members attending Haas, 35% at Booth, and 30% at Stanford GSB.
One satisfied member explains, “Just secured my loan for 5.5% beating CommonBond by an entire 1%.”
At the end of the day, LeverEdge is a student-aligned organization that prides itself on making financial decisions in the best interest of business school students.
To Take the Next Step
In 2020, LeverEdge is poised to continue its expansion by partnering with other organizations in the MBA space on an ongoing basis, and by reaching new members outside MBA programs as well.
Nikhil explains, “We want to figure out how much more penetration can we get into campuses, and how can we help international students.”
With active inbound interest from lenders who want to participate in the process – not to mention an average savings of $13,000 per student – LeverEdge anticipates continued membership growth in the near future, resulting in an even better deal for members in 2020 than in 2019. Simply put: “More people, more savings.”
LeverEdge invites all students who are ready to reduce their student loan burden to learn about how they can do so here. “We are students, for students, by students.”