There’s a saying: necessity is the mother of invention.
When I first considered graduate school, I found myself facing the inevitability of outrageous tuition costs and massive debt for programs that didn’t quite fit my educational goals, which led me to The Leap Year Project—and, of course, Experience Institute.
Recently, I’ve made a new friend whose struggle with a challenge also sparked an innovation that will help others who follow in his footsteps. Louis Beryl was a student in a joint Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Business School program when he applied for a private loan to offset tremendous costs of his tuition. Despite his good credit score and strong resume, his application was rejected. The banks wouldn’t agree to an affordable student loan without a cosigner. He could have walked away from the experience with nothing more than inflated interest rates and a poor attitude, but instead he let that challenge inspire him to make a difference.
So, friends, I’d like you to meet Earnest.
Beryl started the personal lending company Earnest as a way to help financially responsible individuals get affordable loans with low interest rates and no unnecessary costs. As a lending company, Earnest considers more than just a person’s credit score. “The credit system looks at so few things,” Beryl said in a recent Wall Street Journal post. “For people that are just starting off, and haven’t built up that history, it’s very hard to get started. They’re either being overcharged or they’re being denied.”
Instead, at Earnest, a talented team of design, math, finance, and technology pros have developed a savvy algorithm that takes into account your educational background, resume and employment history. You can borrow up to $20,000 over two years without facing the prospect of all that “fee baloney.” What’s more, Earnest’s mission is to provide hyper-personal underwriting that tells each person’s unique story. Today, banking is an impersonal process routed through a financial system that doesn’t seem to care much about our aspirations. That’s not good enough for Beryl – and it’s not good enough for Earnest. Through innovative and human-centered companies like Earnest, Beryl “believes we can fix the financial system by starting over with elegant software, smarter data, better design and focusing on the purpose of enabling people to realize their hopes and dreams.”
That’s precisely why we’re working together. We believe that individuals should be able to launch into seasons of learning that are both affordable and able to be financed in a reasonable and inviting fashion. So, if you are thinking about how to finance Experience Institute, we have negotiated a special partnership with Louis & Co to offer Earnest as an option for our admitted students. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about which states qualify.
With funding options like Earnest available to our future classes of creative and self-starting individuals, we’re one step closer to widening the landscape for innovators to learn through experience and make a difference.