Piglt is one of the many startups trying to rescue students from the burden of student loans.
Cofounder Casey Wallace described the site as “education’s entrepreneurial piggy bank.” Piglt is an incentive-based crowdfunding platform for higher education expenses and student loan debt. Students offer their current abilities, skills, and products in exchange for financial contributions, which go directly to the financial institution that holds the debt.
“No one is doing what we are to change the way people pay for their education,” Wallace said to VentureBeat. “People can’t afford to go to school. If they do end up taking out loans, they are burdened with debt they cannot pay back for 20-plus years and end up getting jobs in areas they are not trained in to make ends meet.”
Student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion in the U.S. Thirty-seven million borrowers have outstanding loans, and 65 percent of borrowers misunderstand their student loan obligations.
In the face of this, youth unemployment recently hit an alarming 16.2 percent. A recent report from Goldman Sachs, based on Department of Labor Statistics, found that unemployment rates of college graduates has surpassed those of workers without a high school education. And a report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that nearly half of the nation’s recent college graduates work jobs that don’t require a degree.
A college degree no longer guarantees gainful employment that can pay off student loans. Piglt’s goal is to try and minimize the debt as much as possible through creative, alternative forms of financing.
The portal’s intent is to foster a community of “dreamers” who need money to achieve their educational goals and the “believers” who want to help them achieve it. Often, these believers are alumni who want to directly support students.
Wallace attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he graduated without needing a loan. His wife is an attorney who graduated with a lot of student debt. After watching her struggle with these loans, Wallace was inspired to build a company that could help more students graduate debt-free.
Crowdfunding is now a large and powerful way to raise money for anything from fun creative projects to medical operations. Companies like Vittana, Instagrad, StudentLoanHero, Tuition.io, CommonBond, and LoanLook are taking innovative, tech-centric approaches to making education more affordable. There are also a range of crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and GoFundMe that people use to raise money for personal causes. With so many crowdfunding options and services out there, many younger companies like Piglt struggle to attract the critical mass of funders to make the network flourish.
The company is based in Los Angeles and has four employees. It is currently conducting a private beta test with 1,500 individuals.