GradRight and Prodigy Finance announce new merit-cum-means scholarships worth $25,000 for Indian students pursuing their Master's abroad in 2023, also award scholarships to 10 students in 2022. Prodigy has disbursed $15 million in unsecured loans via the GradRight platform.
BENGALURU, India, Jan. 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- GradRight and Prodigy Finance jointly awarded 10 merit-cum-means scholarships worth a total of $25,000 to Indian students pursuing their Master's aboard. GradRight, an Ed FinTech company dedicated to making education accessible and affordable for students from underserved communities and Prodigy Finance, an online lender that offers no-cosigner, no-collateral international student loans, also announced new scholarships for students hoping to study abroad in the 2023-24 academic year.
"It's no longer an upper class dream to come to the United States," said one of the 10 scholarship recipients, Vamsi Krishna. "(Studying abroad) can be everyone's dream."
Vamsi lost his father at a young age and worried how he would fund his childhood dream to study abroad. "I come from a middle class background. We did not have any collateral. I looked at the options available on GradRight and went with the lender offering the lowest interest rate, which was Prodigy at the time."
Vamsi is now working towards his Master's in Computer Science at Arizona State University.
Prodigy Finance is one of the 15 lenders available on GradRight, home to the world's first education loan bidding platform. In the last two years, GradRight has received over US $1.12 billion in loan requests and successfully secured over US $225 million in loan approvals for more than 5,200 students. Students who opted for loans from Prodigy Finance were automatically eligible for a scholarship. Winners were carefully selected by GradRight's scholarship committee on the basis of their academic achievement, potential to succeed and financial need to meet their education goals.
"We wanted to broaden the reach of the scholarship while keeping it meaningful and acknowledging ambitious achievers," said Sasidhar Sista, Co-Founder, GradRight, explaining why GradRight decided to evenly split the scholarship amount of $25,000 and award 10 winners $2,500 each. "This is to remind students that they are not alone and we value their ambition and investment in themselves."
"This scholarship has lightened my financial burden, allowing me to focus on my studies," said scholarship winner Anushree Ayyar, who was born and raised in Karnataka's Hubli. Growing up, Anushree dreamed of studying abroad. But her parents passed away before she turned 18 and Anushree struggled to fund her Bachelor's. "I had to make a lot of sacrifices. I worked part-time in a Xerox shop on campus, earning Rs 2,000 a month," she said. After graduation, she worked for six years to save money to fund her Master's abroad.
"My mother never saved a single penny for my marriage or gold, she always invested in my studies," said Anushree. But as she began applying abroad, she realized she may not be able to fund herself. "Typical Indian banks won't give loans to orphans who don't have co-signers," she said. That's when Anushree discovered Prodigy Finance on the GradRight platform. "If there was no Prodigy, I wouldn't be here because Indian lenders would not give me a loan."
Anushree is currently working towards a Master's in Human Resource Management at Pace University.
"We don't look at what a student has right now in terms of financial capabilities but where they are going and what possible future outcomes they can have," said Mayank Sharma, head of global partnerships and country head for Prodigy Finance. "This allows us to lend with confidence, without the need of a co-signer or collateral."
"I know a lot of people like me who are struggling to get financing. They don't have a cosigner or collateral. I didn't know I had an option to get a loan until I learnt of Prodigy from my financial adviser on GradRight," said Sai Sree Meka, who was raised by her grandparents in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada. "My grandfather is a farmer and didn't have enough income to spend on my educationâ€¦ but I knew the value of education," she added. "I tried everything but nothing worked out. I thought I had zero options. (The scholarship) is not a small amount for me."
Sai Sree is now enrolled for a Masters in Computer Science at University of Georgia.
Over 80% of the students GradRight serves come from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities across India, many with an average annual family income of Rs 6 lakh. Many are the first in their families to pursue a graduate degree or go abroad.
"We believe that good quality higher education of lower and middle income students goes a long way in uplifting their families and creates a significant downstream impact on their extended communities. We also believe that higher education is a significant force for driving social and economic equality," shared Aman Singh, Co-Founder, GradRight. "We are able to connect the most deserving students with Prodigy Finance, who are looking to offer loans and scholarships to students who need and deserve them the most."
Together, GradRight and Prodigy have disbursed over Rs 110 crore in education loans in the last two years.
"We hope to continue our partnership to redefine the scope and impact of higher education financing and ultimately allow higher education to be more equitable and accessible," Singh added.
"Prodigy Finance is founded on the philosophy that funding shouldn't be a barrier to education. We're using fintech to redefine the student loan market," explained Sharma. "There are many drawbacks of applying for loans from traditional banks or lenders owing to the complications involved, like prolonged processing time, tedious credit assessment based on a student's family income or credit scores, excessive paperwork, pledging a security against the loan, etc. Collateral and co-signer-free loans such as the ones we offer eliminate all these complexities."
"There was a time I almost gave up on coming to the US," said scholarship winner Sasipriya Kota, who is now working towards a Masters in Computer Science at Wright State University. "My father doesn't have a monthly income. He's a daily wage laborer. I struggled to get a loan from Indian banks because they kept asking me for documents (to prove his income). I found GradRight and my financial adviser told me about lenders like Prodigy. I am so happy to have GradRight, I am finally in the US."
GradRight is an ed-fin-tech startup focused on global higher education. We are committed to enabling global youth aspirations by helping students find the "right education" at the "right cost." Since September 2020, we have received over US$ 1.12 billion in loan requests and successfully secured over US$ 225 million in loan approvals for more than 5,200 students. GradRight was founded in 2019 by Sasidhar Sista, an alumnus of BITS Pilani, and University of Pennsylvania; and Aman Singh, an alumnus of the Indian School of Business and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Learn more about GradRight on www.gradright.com
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