NextGenVest has opened up its text-based financial aid service, called the College Money Mentor, to the public. The service provides information about financial aid and scholarship opportunities, along with assistance in dealing with the student loan process.
Started in New York, the company seeks to solve a problem students have when dealing with how to pay for college: understanding the requirements and meeting deadlines. NextGenVest said that 30 percent of students who take out loans for college will drop out before getting a degree due to financial anxiety. What’s more, the average student who graduates is saddled with $30,000 in debt. The company’s service wants to “maximize free financial aid for students.”
“We aim to be the number one trustworthy money brand for students moving from high school to college and beyond,” founder Kelly Peeler told VentureBeat. She said that the service will help uncover any financial aid a student is eligible for.
NextGenVest started as an online financial literacy course taught by students for students. A website was created to offer education about financial aid because 17 states in the U.S. require students be competent in financial literacy upon graduation. But over time, the company heard that the best way to reach users was through the phone, and it adapted its services accordingly.
Teenagers don’t necessarily spend a lot of time on a computer when they have a mobile device. Getting them to download an app might be possible, though its unlikely they’ll check it frequently when there are distractions like Snapchat and Instagram competing for their attention. But reaching them by text is effective; when they hear that ding on their phone, they’ll check it.
The text-based service launching today was tested in all five boroughs of New York City over the past five months. This is where NextGenVest’s core base of users live and includes areas with a high density of students that qualify for financial aid. Now anyone can enroll for the service by entering their phone number on the company’s website.
After enrolling, students can submit questions about their financial situation by text and receive a response in less than 10 minutes, the company promises. They can also receive reminders about deadlines and actions that need to be taken to stay on track. Lastly, NextGenVest will provide discounts to books, food, coffee, and other things students might be interested in.
This service is free for students and doesn’t require you to install an app on your device. NextGenVest said it makes money by licensing its financial literacy curriculum to schools and embedding it in the classroom.