[Exclusive Interview] Find Out How This Fintech Startup Is Empowering Students To Follow Their Education Dreams

[Exclusive Interview] Find Out How This Fintech Startup Is Empowering Students To Follow Their Education Dreams
[Exclusive Interview] Find Out How This Fintech Startup Is Empowering Students To Follow Their Education Dreams

Recently we caught up with Mr. Manu Smadja, CEO at MPOWER Financing, and we asked him about his vision and mission related to MPOWER Financing, and their endeavour to provide education loans to high-promise international and DACA students.

Here are the highlights..

Tell us about MPOWER and what inspired you to build the company.

MPOWER Financing is the leading provider of scholarships and no-cosigner loans to students from around the world. We’ve supported thousands of students from India and other nations to follow their education dreams abroad.

I was inspired to create MPOWER because, as a former international student from France, I faced tremendous challenges affording a U.S. education. At MPOWER, we ensure that the brightest students from around the world are able to reach their educational aspirations abroad — which is why we offer no-cosigner, no-collateral loans to students across 400 universities around the U.S. and Canada. 

How does MPOWER use data analytics and proprietary systems to underwrite loans?

MPOWER uses proprietary analytics to finance students from around the world. We do this by looking at a variety of factors including educational and professional background, degree economics, and work authorization data in order to underwrite our loans without the traditional requirements of a cosigner or collateral. By doing this, we are able to support promising international students without worrying about the quality of their cosigner or their family’s collateral. We believe in our students and work hard to ensure they are successful both in school and after they graduate.

What is the gender composition of MPOWER’s students?

Almost half (47%) of MPOWER’s students are women. We’re quite proud of this because in many countries, women don’t have the same access to education as their brothers. By providing no-cosigner loans, MPOWER helps ensure that the brightest women from India and around the world — regardless of family background — are able to achieve their education dreams abroad.

Why did MPOWER recently increase its loan limit to $100,000, and how does it support those students after the loan is made?

Over the past 20 years, average tuition at private U.S. universities has grown by 144%. Despite this rapid growth, however, a STEM or other high-value degree from a top university can easily pay for itself with the career outcomes students can attain. MPOWER has responded to this by recently doubling its loan limit to $100,000 (about ?75 lakh), which can be used to cover tuition, housing, meals, or health insurance across 400 top universities and thousands of graduate degree programs in the U.S. and Canada.

Does MPOWER support international students who aren’t participating in the loan program?

MPOWER works hard to ensure that students are supported both while they are in school and after they have graduated. We do this through our Path2Success program, which provides students with comprehensive career support, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities. As a result, students know we are rooting for them and supporting them throughout their education journey and beyond.

Can you explain more about your refinancing program and how it benefits students?

MPOWER’s international refinancing solution helps ensure that talented graduates from India and around the world are able to kick-start their new lives in the U.S. on sound financial footing. We enable international graduates to refinance up to $100,000 (about ?75 lakh) of previous education loans from financial institutions worldwide. In addition to releasing cosigner and collateral obligations, successful applicants can significantly reduce their loan payments while building a U.S. credit history.

This is the only refinance loan designed for international graduates working in the U.S. and reflects MPOWER’s commitment to supporting international postgrads. Eligible applicants must have graduated from a U.S. or Canadian university and have at least three months of work experience. A wide variety of work authorizations are eligible, including OPT, H1-B, and others.

Has the latest omicron variant impacted the number of international students studying in the U.S. and Canada?

While omicron has caused an unprecedented health crisis, international enrollment continues to thrive. Even the preceding delta variant, which proved to be more severe in symptoms, did not stunt enrollment, as 70% of U.S. schools attracted more international students in 2021 compared to 2020. In Canada, new international student recruitment has already exceeded its 2019 peak, with Indian students in particular continuing to enroll at record rates. 

What are your growth plans for the next year?

Since we launched our refinance loan program late last year, we expect many students to apply to refinance their loans as they graduate and begin full-time work. We’re also hoping to support many more students this year than we did last year, especially as universities continue to recruit talented students from around the world.

We’re tremendously excited to see what 2022 has in store for us! And we’re looking forward with anticipation to what our postgrads go on to do in their careers.

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