Website helps creative student loans


Carmina Alvarado is studying for her teaching credential at Santa Clara University. She wanted to pay for it herself.

"My parents always helped me during my under graduate work, they paid out of pocket. I knew that coming to Santa Clara, I would have to get some type of loan," said Alvarado.

That's when a counselor at Santa Clara told her about GreenNote. It's a company that asks that she reach out to friends and family to invest in her education, and then GreenNote takes care of the details.

GreenNote founder and chief executive Akash Agarwal, says the low interest 10 year loans come with no credit approval, no cosigner, no citizenship required and he says GreenNote:

"Helps them get the money, collects the money, creates a promissory note between the student and their social network or anyone else who maybe interested in them; takes the money and sends it to the school," said Agarwal.

Alvarado did her part.

"I emailed professors, friends, people I'd volunteered for, cousins, anybody I could think of," said Alvarado.

One of those she asked to invest in her education was Katie Stokes-Guinan, who once supervised Carmina when they worked together at the Grail Family Services Center in San Jose.

"She supported me while I was working at Grail Family Services and now I can support here to achieve her dreams - so I feel great about it," said Stokes-Guinan.

GreenNote, which just launched its website last month, receives two percent of the loan from the student and one percent of the outstanding loan balance from the lenders, but still delivers a return of 5.8 percent.

"Students going to Stanford, students going to trade schools, students going to for profit schools, community colleges, so anyone is welcome," said Agarwal.

For investors like Stokes-Guinan, GreenNote is peace of mind.

"First of all, they take care of the financial details for me, all of the interest accrual, payment due dates - so I don't have to worry about any of that," said Stokes-Guinan.

And GreenNote makes sure, should a student default on a loan, they'll be held accountable.

As for Alvarado, she found out this week about a significant investment in her future - from a total stranger.

"It's everything, the rest that I needed. It says the person's name and I don't even know who this person is," said Alvarado.

"That's the power of this whole mechanism. We believe education is the best investment. This person obviously wants to help a person trying to help themselves," said Agarwal.

Or maybe, it was just someone who knows a good investment when they see one.

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