February 21, 2018
Meritize, an educational lender that uses an individual's academic data to enhance credit evaluation and expand funding for career-based education, has closed a $6.8 million Seed funding round from leading tech and education-focused investors. Colchis Capital, Chicago Ventures and Cube Financial Holdings led the investment round with participation from ECMC, College Loan Corporation, University Ventures, City Light Capital, PC Squared and Meritize management. Meritize will use the funding to fuel growth, support sales and marketing, expand the team and continue building its platform.
Meritize provides gap funding to students by leveraging quantified academic data as a key factor in private student loan criteria. The company was co-founded by Chris Keaveney and Phillip Stegner, veterans of the credit and lending industries with expertise leading business units across consumer credit, home lending, risk and data at companies including MeasureOne, SoFi, Capital One and JPMorgan Chase. As part of its proprietary merit-based lending model, Meritize uses a student's academic achievements to accurately assess the probability of student completion and loan repayment performance, unlocking a demographic of students previously under-served by traditional lending vehicles, including those students with thin credit or who lack a cosigner.
The company, which was launched in January 2017 with full-phase lending beginning in the third quarter, is experiencing current month-over-month growth in loan application volume of approximately 30 percent.
"The response from investors has exceeded our expectations as we move into significant growth mode with our proprietary lending platform," said Keaveney, Meritize CEO and co-founder. "It represents a big step in advancing our mission to fund career-based education and increase responsible financing using our merit-based credit model. Students pursuing education for highly specialized and skills-based jobs offer solid ROI, not only for their own employment prospects, but also from a lending perspective. We appreciate the confidence these investors have demonstrated in the Meritize brand and in our unique approach to educational lending," he said.
"Student loans now represent the second largest category of consumer debt in the U.S. Chris has assembled a team of industry veterans who have deep technical chops, connectivity into the major players in the lending ecosystem, and expertise in using alternative data to underwrite repayment risk more accurately than traditional credit models," said Stuart Larkins, partner at Chicago Ventures. "We're excited to partner with the Meritize team to help close the lending gap, lower education costs, and help people improve their job prospects through skills-based education and training."
"We're excited to partner with Meritize to bring a merit-based approach to financing student education in areas that have demonstrably successful outcomes for students, while also contributing positively to the overall social good," said Jonathan Strike, partner at Colchis Capital. "Meritize addresses a fundamental gap in our education system at a time when skills-based education is becoming increasingly important, and effectively training and re-training our workforce is critical for maintaining the health of our economy and citizens."
Meritize is an educational lender that uses an individual's academic data to enhance credit evaluation and expand funding for career-based education. The company partners with schools and employers to offer student loans, financing for employer training and career success services. The proprietary Meritize Score goes beyond traditional underwriting to leverage individual academic performance, resulting in enhanced lending decisions, increased loan access, better loan terms and improved outcomes. Frisco, TX-based Meritize is privately held. For more information visit www.meritize.com.