$300 loans offer a lifeline – and an apprenticeship – for students – archyde
Quick loans from the UAB Regional Institute for Financial Education are available in as little as 24 hours. They can help any Blazer student who experiences an unexpected loss of income, housing or medical issues, or a transportation emergency.
Written by: Matt Windsor
Media contact: Savannah Koplon
The University of Alabama’s microloans to Birmingham Regions Institute of Financial Education, or RIFE, helps any Blazer student fix a tire, pay rent, or deal with another emergency – with money available in as little as 24 hours and no interest charged if paid back in 90 days.
Get out of the spiral
More and more students are struggling financially, says Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., director of the institute and creator of the program. Something as small as a flat tire can quickly lead to an exit from school.
“Your car breaks down on the way to school, so you miss class,” Yates said. “You can’t get to work, so you miss shifts and all of a sudden you can’t pay rent. Everything adds up. We thought, “If we could find a way to help a student get this tire, it would prevent all these other things.”
Yates spoke with the Dean of the Collat School of Business, Eric Jack, Ph.D., and he suggested a source of funds: a $25,000 prize pool originally created to help students after the killer tornadoes of 2011. Yates students helped create the rules for the microloan program:
- Give the money to those who need it most,
- Maintain a reserve so that emergency needs can always be met, and
- Have the possibility of making non-emergency loans.
Priority is given to real emergencies, in particular:
- loss of income
- transportation problems
- housing problems or difficult living situations
- medical fees
“It’s very helpful for students who have a gap between the start of the semester and when their financial aid arrives,” Yates said. “By far the majority of loans are repaid within 90 days and very few students have paid interest. It’s not a trap.
The interest rate is 6%, starting on day 91. In fact, the goal is to offer an alternative to payday loans, title loans and pawnbrokers.
Members of the student-run Green & Gold Fund have written an investment policy to help the fund’s capital grow while protecting it. They also sit on the loan committee (all identifying information about other students is removed).
The goal is to “continue to have this resource for a long time to come,” said Jackie Dang, a finance major and member of the Green & Gold Fund who is RIFE’s portfolio manager. “It has been an enriching experience to know that I am part of an organization that does everything possible to help UAB students.”
This is open to all UAB students. Any UAB student can apply for a microloan, Yates said: “We strive to make it as quick and painless as possible.”