Home > Students > New Student Loan Models Attract Borrowers & Investors

Comments 0 Comments

It was bound to happen.

So-called alternative financing sources for student loans have been popping up all over the place. Some take a peer-to-peer (P2P) approach, where individuals with a few bucks to spare and hopes of a better-than-market return lend to others who are looking for a good deal on a loan.

P2P companies serve as matchmakers of sorts. The firms pair pre-screened applicants with investors who set the credit and pricing ground rules for the loans they’re eager to make. The fees that the P2Ps earn may come from arranging the match and babysitting (servicing) the offspring (loans) over time.

The more traditional alternative lenders are somewhat less paternalistic.

A number of high-powered professional investment companies—including private equity and hedge fund firms—are backing a string of nonbank lending operations that are busy staking out market positions in a variety of business sectors.

Higher education is one of these.

The reason for the interest is obvious: More than $1 trillion worth of student loans, a portion of which will make its way into the private market at some point. For example, some borrowers may require additional financing after maxing out the amount they can get from federal programs. Others may need to combine and refinance their government and private student loan debt later on.

What’s less obvious is the lenders’ control over the selection process, and the fact that even if a bad deal were to slip through anyway, all student loans—government and private alike—continue to be virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.

The selection process is attracting a bit of attention these days. Some lenders are seeking to improve upon their already good repayment odds by exclusively marketing to those students who are pursuing historically high-paying areas of study at premier colleges and universities. As for the rest, their rates are typically higher and their loans may need to be co-signed by deep-pocketed parents or other close relatives.

To paraphrase Orwell, all students are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Meantime, there’s news that the first of these alternatively-originated loans are ending up in securitizations.

Fundamentally speaking, this form of structured finance serves two key purposes: It broadens lending capacity by recycling previously originated loans, thereby freeing up the lenders to grant new credit. It also locks in the originating lender’s profit, which is typically expressed in terms of the difference between the interest rates that borrowers are charged and those that are paid to investors to whom the loans are ultimately sold through one of these complex transactions.

The integrity of the investors’ rate of return depends on three things: an originally agreed-to payment stream that will not change, a loan value that can be expected to amortize as it was intended and a repayment term that will also remain intact.

Reduce the payment amount, forgive a portion of the loan value or extend the duration and the investor’s rate of return could get hammered—which explains the strong reluctance on the part of their agents (loan servicers) to meaningfully restructure or permanently modify securitized loans for distressed borrowers, whether for home mortgages or education debt.

So, as securitizations and other forms of structured-finance transactions begin to crank up in the education-loan sector, what should be done differently this time around?

As long as Congress continues to do nothing about the free pass in bankruptcy court that education lenders and investors enjoy today (including the feds), lawmakers should, at the very least, mandate two things.

First, that the governing documentation for all after-the-fact financing transactions (securitizations, in particular) makes it clear to all concerned that troubled debts will be promptly restructured or modified in a manner that is consistent with the student-loan relief programs the government has in place at the time.

Second, that everyone that’s involved in this financial conga-line — lenders, investors and loan servicers alike — will be held equally accountable for that as well.

More on Student Loans:

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its affiliates.

Image: Robert Churchill

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team