The Advancer Fund
Flexible, debt-free paths to high-demand careers through innovative higher education.
While our university collaborators have low tuition compared to other institutions, most students do rely on some federal financial aid to cover the cost. Thanks to The Advancer Fund, students who have barriers to accessing federal financial assistance can still have a path to a great education without relying on costly private loans.
College and career success doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders alone.
If you qualify, The Advancer Fund will cover your tuition up front, and you contribute back to the fund after you graduate and are earning at least $40,000. You’ll never pay more than 1.1 times the amount you used from the fund (that additional 0.1x is to cover the cost of administering the fund). The Advancer Fund leverages an Income Share Agreement (ISA format); but unlike predatory ISAs, the Advancer Fund is designed with equity-centered, favorable terms for qualifying students.
Want to learn more? Check out these FAQs.
Before beginning an application to The Advancer Fund, you’ll need to complete a brief survey to confirm your eligibility for the program. If you are a current AdvanceEDU student, please speak with your Success Coach about this.
You are eligible to participate in The Advancer Fund if you:
- Are accepted as an AdvanceEDU student, and are enrolled in one of our partner university programs (Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America program or CSU Global).
- Are a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen with government-issued, non-expired documentation of permanent resident status, or are a DACA recipient (DREAMer) or a TPS designee.
- Are able to meet the credit requirements of the program. (While there is no minimum credit score to participate in The Advancer Fund, we do conduct a credit inquiry and require applicants to meet certain minimum qualifications.)
- Are at least 18 years old.
- Have already submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), received an award letter from the partner university, and have accepted all Pell Grant and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans to which you are eligible. (We do not expect you to accept Direct Unsubsidized loans.)
- Have a minimum expected financial need of $2,000 per year.
Stride Funding is an AdvanceEDU partner who helps us administer The Advancer Fund. If you have any questions about the role that Stride Funding plays in our program, please feel free to reach out! We’re happy to share more.
Even if you don’t complete your intended degree with AdvanceEDU, you are still responsible for meeting the terms of The Advancer Fund contract.
The Advancer Fund isn’t a scholarship, and participation comes with a number of responsibilities. For instance, if you don’t submit required materials verifying your income, or if you miss payments, you may be charged late fees, or your account can become delinquent. You can avoid this through clear communication with the AdvanceEDU team, and by following the rules of the program. Specific fees that you can be charged are:
- Late payment fee
- Underpayment fee
- Stopped payment / returned payment fee
The Advancer Fund isn’t a traditional loan, and so it’s hard to make a direct comparison between them. Here are just some of the differences between The Advancer Fund and a traditional loan:
- The Advancer Fund: Repayment is based on the amount of funding you receive and your future earnings.
- Traditional loan: Repayment is based on the amount you borrow, the duration of the loan, and on the interest rate charged by the lender.
- The Advancer Fund: You don’t repay when your income is below a certain threshold ($40,000 / year).
- Traditional loan: None.
Your obligation ends when…
- The Advancer Fund: You’ve made 78 payments, hit the payment cap, or hit the maximum program term of 84 months. After 84 months, you have no further repayment obligation, no matter how much you’ve paid.
- Traditional loan: You’ve paid off your entire loan balance, plus interest.
Depending on a number of factors, you may pay more or less through The Advancer Fund than you would with a subsidized federal loan. Whether you pay more or less will depend on a number of factors, including your future earnings and your time to repayment.
One last note
You should also know that if you opt to receive federal student loans, you may also be eligible to participate in a variety of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans offered by the federal government. Like with The Advancer Fund, through income-driven repayment plans, instead of repaying a fixed monthly amount, you make payments based on a percentage of the income you earn.
Income-driven repayment plans offer a number of benefits, but not all borrowers are eligible for all plans. If you’d like to learn more about IDR plans, please reach out to the AdvanceEDU team and we can connect you with a financial aid expert who can help.
- Funding amounts: The minimum amount of funding you can receive through The Advancer Fund is $8,000. (You can’t receive less than $2,000 per year, but it’s fine if you only need $8,000 total.) The maximum amount you can receive (over multiple years) is $20,000. If approved, you will receive $20,000. You can choose to use more or less of the funding depending on other financial aid or payment options you have.
- Repayment: The amount you’ll repay is based on how much you borrowed and on your future income. For each $1,000 of funding you receive, you’ll pay back 0.4% of your annual income (for the 78-month term). In other words, if you receive $10,000 in funding, you’ll pay back 4% of your gross annual income. Once you’ve paid back 1.1x the amount you’ve borrowed (“the cap”), you’re not responsible for further payments, even if you haven’t made 78 months of payments.
- Income threshold: You’ll be required to make payments only in years where you earn more than $40,000. If you make less than the Income Threshold for a given year, you won’t have to pay anything.
- Grace period and hardship forbearance: When you earn your BA, you’ll have a 6-month grace period before you’re required to start making payments. (If you choose to withdraw from AdvanceEDU before graduating, you won’t be able to access this grace period.) You can also request to defer payments during a period of financial difficulty (even if you’re earning more than the $40,000 income threshold). You can’t take more than three months of forbearance in a row at any given point. Forbearance does not count toward your payment obligation. For instance, if you request and receive three months of forbearance, these three months will be added to your repayment term.
- Apply: Students interested in the Advancer Fund can inquire after they are enrolled in AO (AdvanceEDU Onboarding). Eligible students will receive a link to the full application. After completing the full The Advancer Fund application, you’ll be notified as to whether you’ve met the criteria for the program. If you’re selected, you’ll be able to confirm your desired funding amount, and then sign your The Advancer Fund contract.
- Receive funding: Once you’ve signed your The Advancer Fund contract, AdvanceEDU will directly transfer funding to your student account. AdvanceEDU will disburse The Advancer Fund funding one term at a time (disbursing as much approved funding as is needed to cover a student’s outstanding balance). For instance, if you’ve applied for $4,000 in The Advancer Fund funding for a given year, and you have an outstanding balance (after Pell Grant) of $1,500 for your first term, we’ll disburse $1,500 to your student account (reserving the rest for subsequent terms).
- Study (without stressing): While you’re in school, you won’t need to make any payments or pay any fees. Once you graduate with your BA, you’ll have a 6-month grace period before you have to begin making payments. (Again, you’ll only make payments if and when you’re earning more than $40,000 per year.)
- Repayment: Following your 6-month grace period, you’ll begin making monthly payments back to The Advancer Fund. Your payment amount will vary based on how much funding you’ve received, and on your income. (See more in “What are the full terms of the program?” above.) You’ll make payments for 78 months to 84 months, or until you’ve hit the “repayment cap” (or, in other words, paid back 1.1x the amount of funding you received).