SALT LAKE CITY, UT (May 23, 2023) — WGU Labs, an affiliate of Western Governors University, has invested in a recent round of funding for Savi, a social impact technology startup, to explore the student debt crisis. This two-phase collaboration will include a national survey of student loan borrowers and a pilot study that will explore connecting student loan borrowers to opportunities to continue their education with WGU.
The student debt crisis affects over 46 million borrowers in the United States, and research finds that Black, Latinx, first-generation, and female student borrowers struggle more with student loan debt than their peers. Savi’s platform has the unique ability to identify the best loan repayment and forgiveness programs based on a user's unique financial picture and goals, supporting a group of borrowers whose personal and financial futures are most jeopardized by debt.
In phase one, Labs’ researchers will conduct a nationally representative survey of student loan borrowers who have either a college degree or some college credits, but no degree, and explore how student loan debt has impacted both types of borrowers' intentions of completing their education or pursuing new educational opportunities. The second phase of the collaboration will focus on introducing users who have benefited from reduced student loan payments through Savi to potential opportunities to complete a degree at WGU.
“We know that student debt, especially for those with debt but no degree, has an enormous impact on future educational pursuits, earning potential, and overall financial health, but we haven’t yet been able to quantify it,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder of Savi. “This survey will allow us to uncover new insights, trends, and connectivity between debt and education that should be at the forefront of a national conversation, helping to fuel large scale social progress to address the national student debt crisis.”
The study will also explore what knowledge borrowers possess on student loan repayment tools, and how student loan debt impacts the physical and mental health of borrowers, as well as their pursuit of personal and financial milestones.
“We are excited to work with Savi to move the national conversation forward on the impact of the student debt crisis, particularly for those with student debt but no degree,” said Brad Bernatek, director of the Accelerator at WGU Labs. “There is tremendous value in better understanding what educational opportunities are unlocked for adult learners who are able to work with Savi to reduce their student loan burden.”
Through this engagement, Labs hopes to expand the existing knowledge on the financial, emotional and educational impact of student loan debt on adults, and discover new opportunities for alleviating the burden of individuals with student debt.
The historic investment in Savi will mark the 22nd client relationship for the Accelerator at WGU Labs since its inception in 2019. To learn more about WGU Labs and its partners, visit https://wgulabs.org/accelerator/.
Savi, co-founded by Aaron Smith and Tobin Van Ostern, is a social impact startup that positions themselves as experts in student debt with the aim to help student loan borrowers tackle the complex loan repayment system and their student loan debt. They develop financial technology that helps borrowers find the optimal forgiveness or repayment plans for their needs, automate their payments, and keep an eye on re-enrollment needs and new benefits that may emerge and be applicable for the borrowers. They are working to solve the pressing student debt crisis and help everyday working class individuals. For more information, please visit bysavi.com