Background

The University of Utah, one of the country’s leading public universities, is a diverse community of learners. Thirty-one thousand students study in 17 colleges and more than 100 departments. The U serves a high proportion of adult learners, first-generation college students, and immigrants. For instance, 20% of Utah students are over 24 years of age, and by comparison, other PAC-12 schools average about 7.5% adult learners in their student body.

The University of Utah’s strategic goals highlight its commitment to students. It seeks to “promote student success to transform lives” through activities that “expand scholarship opportunities and strategically align scholarships with access, achievement, and completion goals.” In this vein, degree completion has been a persistent objective for the U, and its efforts have shown results. The university’s 6-year graduation rate increased 16% over the last 6 years. Nevertheless, completion rates are still a major area of focus. Invest in U is a pilot program that offers income share agreements (ISAs) as an innovative, flexible way for students to finance their educations. The ISA program is designed to fill funding gaps and enable students to enroll full time to finish their degrees faster so they can begin earning sooner.

Program Design Overview

Invest in U provides income share agreements (ISAs) for students in selected majors who are within one year of completing their degrees. Students may receive a $3,000 to $10,000 ISA to fill funding gaps after grants and scholarships. Once employed, students fulfill their ISA contract by paying 2.85 percent of their monthly income over a 3- to 10.5-year period, depending upon the ISA amount and their major.

All ISA payments go back into the Invest in U fund to propel other students toward the finish line. The U’s Invest in U ISA program is funded by $6 million in donor, investor and university money. It is strategically designed to increase retention and degree completion.

Important Student Protections

01.

A minimum income threshold so that graduates in financial hardship don’t have to make payments

02.

A fixed percentage of income of a graduate’s salary, so payments should always be affordable

03.

A payment term will define a required number of payments (payment term). The student's obligation ends after fulfilling the number of monthly payments required under the payment term.

04.

A payment cap to ensure a reasonable maximum payment amount

Through Invest in U, the University of Utah is investing in our students to help them succeed, recognizing that many students start and stop their educations based on finances.”

Ruth Watkins President of The University of Utah

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