New Sixup Student Loan Available in 9 States

June 16, 2017

By Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

Low-income students served by college access and success organizations in nine states may be eligible for an innovative private loan program designed to fill gaps in cost of attendance after federal loans are maxed out. Sixup piloted its loans in Texas last year and is now also available in Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, with more states to come.

Sixup offers private loans at interest rates between 4.5 percent and 9.49 percent, lower than traditional private loans. To reward academic performance, interest rates may decline for students as their grades improve and they get closer to graduation. Most importantly, no parent co-signature or credit history is required, which may make Sixup an alternative to Parent Plus loans for some families. Instead, Sixup uses academics to evaluate loan applicants and considers the likelihood a student will graduate, get a job, and have a manageable level of total debt. GPAs of last year’s borrowers ranged from 2.45 to 3.8.

Eligible students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, enroll full-time at a four-year college, and have strong academic performance. Students may apply as they enter college for the first year, when already enrolled, or when transferring from a community college to a four-year institution. Loan amounts can range from $2,500 to $15,000 annually with an average loan so far of $6,500. All majors are eligible to apply.

In its first year, Sixup worked closely with several NCAN members in Texas as well as TRIO and Upward Bound programs, including CollegeCommunityCareer, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Genesys Works, and KIPP Schools (Austin, Houston and San Antonio). These members have reported satisfaction with Sixup and found its staff to be informed about financial aid and the needs of low-income students.

“Sixup was started by people that look just like our students – low-income, first-generation students. They know from personal experience that a little help with financial aid will help students succeed in getting their college degree that will then propel students into their careers,” Kathy Rose of CollegeCommunityCareer said.

“When we heard the individual stories of the Sixup’s founders, we felt they understood our students ... They had the funding to close gaps for students that we couldn’t cover,” Sonya Ramirez of KIPP Houston Public Schools said.

Sixup also offers a data tool called FuturePrime that allows students to see personalized projections of their likely outcomes at a range of potential colleges. “Sixup expands its horizons beyond that of providing loans,” Stephanie Perez Gill of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Houston said. “The FuturePrime tool is a great way for students and families to see their options based on quality of education for the price. I love how it offers a visual representation of the schools in a way that is easier for students and parents to wrap their head around. The financial conversation can be difficult, and this tool helps elevate the points I'm making to parents about college choice and affordability.”

Although Sixup loans are not available to all students served by college access organizations, and taking on additional debt may not always be in students’ best interest, NCAN members have reported that they appreciate the opportunity to offer options to students faced with funding gaps. “In our work I consider a large role that we play is that of a broker,” Ruben Rodriguez of KIPP San Antonio Public Schools said. “If we don’t provide a direct service or resource, we make referrals to individuals and organizations that can provide those resources. Part of our responsibility is to be a clearinghouse for information, services and resources because we want to have options for our students. And Sixup is an option that we want to promote for our students in an area that typically doesn’t have many options for our students.”

Sixup is a public benefit corporation and has a double bottom line for investors – financial returns tied to social impact. Sixup has also established a nonprofit foundation to raise funds to create and implement programs to benefit the next generation of college students, through tools such as FuturePrime.

In addition to visiting Sixup’s website, you can learn more by: 

As Sixup expands to more states and students, NCAN is interested in sharing more information about this new loan option. Please send us your thoughts, questions and experiences.

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