The people who launched Sixup a little more than three years ago can relate to the students they serve on a personal level.
Sunwoo Hwang, the company’s founder and CEO, was raised by a single immigrant dad, and Heath Alexander, Sixup’s director of business development, worked 40-50 hours per week while in college. Both came from low-income and first generation backgrounds.
Based in San Francisco, Sixup is a public benefit corporation and online lending platform whose mission is to lift up the next generation of high-achieving, low-income students in pursuit of a high-quality college education.
To qualify for a Sixup loan, incoming first-year, in-college, or transfer students entering a four-year college are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and accept any available federal, state, and institutional aid. They also must reside in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.
Loan amounts range from $2,500 to $15,000 annually and include all of the traditional features of student loan repayment and grace periods.
Sixup also rewards exemplary academic performance; students who complete additional years of coursework and increase or have stable GPAs are eligible for lower interest rates — which range from 5.61% to 9.49% — as they progress to graduation.
Alexander, however, is quick to point out that Sixup’s services go beyond those of a typical lender.
The free resource helps students choose the best value for college based on NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) data for institutional outcomes and their actual financial aid awards. FuturePrime also allows school counselors to set up accounts and connect with their students throughout the decision-making process.
Additionally, Sixup collaborates with its partners throughout the U.S. to provide free tutoring, internship and career assistance, and motivational care packages for first-time students who receive Sixup services, among other services.
The company has conducted financial literacy presentations and provided training for staff, students and parents at various TRIO programs, non-profit organizations, public and private schools, and charter management organizations. They will also be an exhibitor at the 2018 Florida College Access Network Summit in May.