Co-founder of GradRight, Aman Singh is looking to expand the fledgling system with SelectRight, which builds on the company’s loan-bidding tool FundRight with a platform designed to help students find the best university courses.
“It puts the universities and students directly in touch with agents,” Singh said. “SelectRight offers transparency and access for Indian students.”
In India, Singh said, it is very difficult for students to find loans by themselves, and until recently, the ‘collateralised’ loan – where students pledge assets like their parents’ property for the funds – was used liberally by banks.
“Most students are starting to move away from the collateral loan,” Singh explained. “Banks don’t understand how to model their loans on students’ past credentials as well as their future potential.”
“All the things that I wanted from university are going to be on this platform”
FundRight uses algorithms to help students secure funds for their studies within an average of three to four days, giving clarity and security to both the student and the bank.
Singh claimed that 80% of users are from tier two or tier three cities, where most prospective students would not have much access to banks in normal circumstances.
On SelectRight, universities will pay to meet students who are matched to the institution, and they will also offer a “marketplace of current student-mentors or alumni that are uniquely matched” to the prospective student.
Students will have the option for these one-on-one chats with current students from matched universities for “a fraction of a fee they would pay for individual counselling”, as part of the course-matching process. However, that part of the process is optional, and student-mentors may not even charge for their time.
Archita Jha, who heads up strategy and international growth at Gradright, explained the new platform’s focus when it comes to partnerships with institutions.
Jha said, “We are driven by the mission of enabling the right education at the right costs for everyone.
“While our competition has more resources, we have a more experienced team… we have a first-hand understanding of the challenges of students and this gives us a strong foundation to innovate.”
Jha said that banks can lend better if “students choose better”, which will work more efficiently if “they know which program can be funded” by the banks in India.
“Gradright has always been imagined as a twin platform, and SelectRight is the logical second and complementary part to FundRight,” she added.
The present focus is US graduate schools, with 700 universities available to match students with over 6,000 programs. When it comes to partners, the company currently has just 15, but is looking to expand into much bigger territory by the end of the year.
“Gradright has always been imagined as a twin platform”
“We are aiming for approximately 100 new partnerships,” Jha said.
These partnerships will largely be at program-level; as each target university has multiple programs in STEM and business, which are largely the interest to Indian students, this would “translate into almost 40-50 new partnerships”.
Not only is the number of programs vast, but the ambitions also stretch outside of North America.
“We are already planning to cover ground in Europe,” said Jha, who is based in the UK.
With two decades of experience in the higher education sector, including as the founding project director of Ashoka University, Singh is optimistic about the future of his platform.
“There is efficiency to be unlocked for all parties… it’s what I’ve been thinking for the last five years,” he said. “All the things that I wanted from university are going to be on this platform.”
SelectRight launches on October 15.