A Wilmington company, headed by banking and start-up veterans, has rolled out a free tool for student loans.
NitroScore is now available at https://score.nitrocollege.com.
Mike Brown, managing director of NitroScore, said that in spite of concern over the impact of more than $3 trillion in student debt, families and school counselors often look at a limited amount of information when it comes to the real-world challenge of dealing with debt.
Granted, some education has to take place before the use of the calculator. Brown cities the example of one student using the calculator thought it was fine to have $950 a month in take home pay after the loan payment.
At first glance, the student loan world seems to be swimming in information with loan providers, servicers and third-party sites offering cost calculators.
What makes NitroScore different, according to Brown, is its ability to quickly plug in total school costs, starting salaries and other factors, as well as the student loan FAFSA form.
“We would like to see NitroScore in the hands of every counselor,” Brown says.
The process can be further refined through parent loans, savings and income derived from working one’s way through school.
The site uses proprietary information as well as well as information on the costs of 4,138 U.S. colleges, summarized by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Salary data comes from PayScale and include averages based on a survey of 1.4 million college graduates, broken down across 336 majors at four-year colleges (bachelor’s programs) and 140 two-year associate degrees.
A visit to the website showed the value offered by two-year degrees. An associates degree in accounting from Delaware Technical Community College generated an 800 score.
The business model for NitroScore is based on advertising revenue on the site. The site features links to student loan providers, including locally based Sallie Mae and CollegeAve.
Brown says the score is no substitute for visits to the campus and other types of research.
Many other factors enter into choosing the right college and university. You can’t quantify the interactions, relationships and the hiring preferences of alumni in decision-making positions.
Still, Brown sees NitroScore as away to go into the difficult issue of paying for college with a useful reality check.
NitroScore has growth plans that include more writers to generate high-quality content. The site already offers a guide and an article on preparing for the bewildering FAFSA form that is required for financial aid.
Founders are James Stewart and Ben Brake, who were top executives for credit card company First USA, now Chase. Stewart and Brake went on to become principals at Juniper, which was later acquired by Barclaycard.
After their banking careers, the two men founded Epic Research, a marketing and consulting firm with ties to the local technology community.
Stewart was instrumental in founding Zip Code Wilmington, a successful non-profit that now offers a coding “boot camp” in Wilmington, with the program generating national attention for its high placement rate. Brake has been involved in education issues related
Brown, also a veteran of First USA, has a career that focused on education and content marketing and went on to join NitroScore.
The lean start-up has two writers, with plans to add more, according to Brown, who sees the NitroScore as a content manager, rather than a tech company.
Also in the works from the founders of NitroScore is loanunion.com, a content management venture that will focus on ways to manage student debt. Brown says the program is in an earlier stage of development than NitroScore.