Professional Development
Crowdfunding / Education / Events / Finance / Pitches

A fintech solution for students looking to finish college

How Stacie Whisonant's PYT Funds is taking a new approach to student lending.

At the Vinetta Project female founder showcase on Monday night. (Photo via Anna Kohanski Mason on Twitter)
Personally, Stacie Whisonant paid her way through college by serving in the military.

It was an option and, in her case, a good one — she graduated cum laude from Longwood University with very little student debt and was able to go on to buy her own home and begin a career in banking with HSBC.
But quickly, through her professional experience in banking and her personal experience with her family and friends, Whisonant realized how unique her position was. She realized just how many students emerge from university saddled with an obscene amount of debt, and how sometimes even a very small amount of money at the right time can mean the difference between getting that degree or not.
So, about a year and a half ago, Whisonant launched PYT (Pay Your Tuition) Funds.
It works like this: Let’s say you’re a good student, studying a STEM subject, who is about to graduate and go out into a job market that can hardly wait to offer you a job. But there’s a catch — you need $2,000 more to get through your final semester. Where do you turn? PYT Funds hopes to be the obvious answer to that question.
https://twitter.com/KiddarCapital/status/757743527778332672
In other words, high-potential students (those with good grades, who are close to finishing and have high earning potential after) from low- to moderate-income backgrounds are encouraged to apply for funding via PYT Funds. First, the student sets up a profile on PYT’s crowdfunding platform. A Kickstarter for their tuition needs, if you will.
Then, if students are successful in raising some money from friends and family, PYT Funds takes this information paired with data on the student and their accomplishments and approaches a bank to get a micro-loan, as such working around the need for that students’ parents to co-sign. Currently, PYT Funds partners with Sallie Mae.
But the Halcyon Incubator cohort member has even bigger extension plans — in August PYT Funds launched a foundation arm that will ultimately serve to make those micro-loans itself. Donations to the foundation will come from corporations and common donors and, importantly, bank community development dollars.
See, in 1977 Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act to encourage, well, mandate, that banks give back to the communities in which they are located. Traditionally banks tend to deploy this money via small business loans, mortgages and community development exercises like classes in financial literacy.
Whisonant has another pitch for the banks — invest those dollars with PYT Funds and we’ll disperse it to high-potential young people who will make great clients in a couple of years. It’s a win-win.
But of course Whisonant hopes it’s not just students and banks that will see the potential in PYT Funds. She’ll be pitching along side two other female founders at the finals of the Vinetta Project $20K challenge on Thursday. Want to see her tell her story? You can snag tickets to the event here.

Companies: Halcyon

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

9 don't-miss events for technologists and entrepreneurs this July

Top 3 vital trends founders should know before pitching investors in 2024

An OpenAI advisor wants to help tech leaders embrace the humanities

Leaders at Baltimore Region Investment Summit praise collaboration and push for equitable growth — EDA funding or not

Technically Media