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Daphné Vanessa

Shamil Rodriguez

 

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About This Episode

Today Daphné Vanessa (@daphnevanessa) and Shamil Rodriguez (@shamilrodriguez) discuss  the origins of The Student Loan Podcast and the startup they co-founded that allows for students and alumni to serve the community and receive payments towards their student loans or tuition in return.

 

THIS EPISODE COVERS:

  • What is StartNoo and how does it work?;
  • The origins of The Student Loan Podcast;
  • And much more…

Enjoying the show? Leave us a rating and review. Every comment helps! Drop in your IG handle so we can thank you personally!

 

Resources from this Episode:

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:02): Welcome to the student loan podcast. Here, you'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans, where your hosts, Daphne, Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez

Shamil Rodriguez (00:21): Begin. We have a message from a very special VIP. Please rate, review, and subscribe to The Student Loan Podcast. This is not professional advice. And we speak from our own personal views. And the

Daphné Vanessa (00:37): Student loan podcast is brought to you by start new, where you can serve your community and get rewarded with tuition and student loan payments to check out of start new is on your campus. Visit start new.com. Last

Shamil Rodriguez (00:51): Week we had an episode and a great guest episode 42, where we brought on Adam Minsky to discuss several different aspects of recent changes. He is a student loan lawyer, and he also is a senior contributor to Forbes. So he actually went over what your rights are as a student loan borrower. But then he also talked about the student loan deferral until January, 2022. And then he also went into some private sector issues as well, or as ways that people are getting their student loans paid for, and some other changes in government as well. So if you are interested in that type of information and you want to take a deeper dive into that episode, visit the Suitland podcast.com forward slash episode 42.

Daphné Vanessa (01:34): Welcome everyone to another episode of the student loan podcast. We are your host here today to share with you, engage and talk about all things, higher education, student loans, and impact. Today. We are going to answer some questions that we've received from the audience, various methods to talk about who start new and why do they keep infiltrating in the student loan podcast? So with that, let's get started.

Shamil Rodriguez (02:10): I guess the first question I guess we want to answer is why is starting to sponsoring the city of little podcasts? I feel that's a good, good place to start. What do you think, Daphne? It's a

Daphné Vanessa (02:19): Really good question. This question is a very common one, a frequent frequent question, we'll say. And we're really excited to share with you. Some of the reasons why start new is sponsoring the student loan podcast. So many years ago, there were financial crises back to back. And I mean, many I'm sure a lot of people are laughing at us right now, but for our generation, it was many years ago that the financial crisis stopped people from getting stop people from being able to pursue the career of their dreams. Because all of a sudden, we were in a place where we had graduated and their markets had gone completely down. There were no more jobs left. People were concerned with, well, what's next in my life. How am I going to apply the knowledge that I just studied? If there are no jobs? So this was really difficult time for our generation.

Daphné Vanessa (03:36): There, there was, I mean, it was, it was just a really bad time, fast forward to a few years after that and on a black Monday, the markets dipped again. And so let's say you had gone to school to wait for the financial crisis to write out like you did your undergrad. And then you went to do a graduate degree. You were in back-to-back financial crisis. So the first time he graduated no jobs, the next time you graduate no jobs again. So that was a really difficult time for so many people. And in the meanwhile what's accumulating student loan, debt, monstrous student loan debt. And so around 2013, this problem had gotten way out of hand and we thought it's time for a solution and start new founded by the same co-sponsors of this podcast decided we have to create a solution. And so start new was born. And at first the idea was a crowdfunding site, like a student loan registry where people ask for money. However, people didn't really like that idea, right? Shamil

Shamil Rodriguez (04:55): Yeah, no, that wasn't the the vibe that people wanted to go off with when we first started start new. But before we get into that, I guess I just really wanted to make sure that we emphasize that those two came together. Because like you said, you like, like to really pull out that idea of we're trying to come up with a solution. Right. And so that's where the outgrowth of the student loan podcast came from of wanting to provide that solution. So yeah, when we came up with the idea and we initially came up with a solution with certain new of let's create a crowdfunding site, like a student loan registry that people were just like, no, we don't want to beg for money and not do anything for it. Right? Exactly.

Daphné Vanessa (05:36): And that's where it makes a lot of sense for it made a lot of sense for us to address a solution. There was, there was no other scenario when you know, people who are going through this struggle live and you see them and you see their suffering, you want to help. It's completely normal. And so that's what we attempted to do. And so after that first idea failed, we saw a need to pivot at the same time, I was as many of you know, who have listened to this podcast episode, you know, that I love volunteering. I love volunteering with nonprofits and helping organizations and part of this ha a lot of this happened during my graduate school studies in Europe, where I ran a global service program for my university. And in doing that, I was connecting with universities who were struggling. They were struggling to find qualified volunteers.

Daphné Vanessa (06:41): They would complain that people either didn't show up or were not consistent or didn't have the value and skill set that they needed for the particular work. So they spent as nonprofits, more time training volunteers and less time doing the impact work. And so here we were in the middle of this financial crisis and we realized like, wait, these two groups of people need each other. It was like matchmaking for student loans, volunteering, I guess, but the, they needed each other, right? The nonprofits needed qualified, skilled, reliable volunteers that they could count on. And these students, they needed an opportunity, somebody to believe in them so that they weren't graduating with no relevant work experience so that they were graduating with relevant work experience. And so that they were able to find a way to get over that mountain of student loan debt and higher education costs. It was a marriage of two and that's how it started. It was born.

Shamil Rodriguez (07:51): So now back to, that's a good summary of where we, the long road that we've taken to get to this point. And so in the spirit of, of providing a solution for people to actually take advantage of, we thought that the cinema podcast would be a really great way for people to have the resources that they need to actually tackle their student loan debt. And as you may all know, or if you've listened to the now 40 plus episodes that we've done, there is a wide range of reasons why the student loan crisis exists today. And so with, if you're a student who signed the dotted line and has student loans or an alumni, who's still trying to figure out how to pay off your student loan debt. You can come onto this podcast and learn from experts in the field, right. People that are out there last episode that we had, we had a student loan lawyer on the show discussing what your rights were as a student loan borrower.

Shamil Rodriguez (08:46): We've had people that have paid off over $200,000 in student loan debt and a couple of years in less time than it took to actually take out the loans when they were, they were in school. So we really cover the gamut for people that are in that position. But then there are also other parts of the student loan process that exists that we think needed to have coverage. And so that's what we bring on policy experts, the people that are down in DC or at the state capitols of their states going in and lobbying, right. Trying to propose solutions, you know, check it out, you'll see these people that are coming up with really creative ways, whether it's canceling student loan debt or figuring out different ways to offer more money for people or making education completely free, right there there's the government side, that policy perspective.

Shamil Rodriguez (09:30): Right. But then we also bring on people that are experts that just provide, you know, advice from like a different perspective. We've had it, school teachers, school administrators on the podcast to give it a perspective from the university, right? So that you can see what that perspective is. And then definitely not. I'd love to take, you know, deep dives where it's just the two of us going into episodes that cover a very specific topic, or maybe it's an episode for how universities can help students find better jobs or covering news that's happening. Like the extension of the student loan payments being extended to January 20, 22 by the Biden administration whatever, you know, as of, of topics. So we're really going, wherever student loans go. And then we are speaking to experts that are living and breathing in that space in hopes that whoever's out here listening, which includes a lot of people we're thankful for you would learn from it or gain something from this episode or finding a resource that you didn't know existed in the first place. And so now all of a sudden we have a new form that allows for us to accomplish our mission, which helped us start start new in the first place pun intended. Ha right. No one is laughing at that joke that I did. I'm happy about that.

Shamil Rodriguez (10:48): But you think that was, that was a fair way to sum that one up. Definitely.

Daphné Vanessa (10:51): I think it was, you know, that's, that's a great summary. And so what, why, why does this matter to you, you know, is, is sort of the big question. Well, if you're a student or alumnus with student loan debt, then I hopefully it's clear how this podcast can help you. But there are so many other groups that benefit from this podcast as well. And even groups that may not necessarily be users on the platform, but can still benefit from information that we share. So one group that I'd like to share are professors. So professors offer professors are, I mean, they're what you're going to school for. Oftentimes you're learning. They are, they're right with you to have those educational breakthroughs. Professors are amazing. And professors can also benefit from thinking about how learning and experiential learning can bring their classrooms to the next level. And so we we've talked about it a lot for students, but professors also can really benefit from listening to the student loan podcasts. You know, what do you think?

Shamil Rodriguez (12:13): I absolutely agree. I think that if you go back to actually episode 40 with Mike Leba, we talk about how universities and professors and teachers in particular can change the student experience. And that really helps drive a lot of perspective there. So I think that's a really good point. And I think that might be a good, a good transition, definitely into the next question about, well, what is start new? Right? We've we've talked about the history of this company. We've talked about why it's sponsoring this podcast and we've gone. I think we think a really good deep dive into, you know, like what the motivation was for even starting the Suitland podcast, but what is start new, right? If you haven't already heard, which you probably haven't listened to any previous episodes where Daphne so eloquently reminds everyone that this is a little podcast is brought to you by start new a and rubber.

Shamil Rodriguez (13:04): It's just a way that allows for students and alumni to make an impact with nonprofits in exchange for direct payments towards their tuition or student loans. That's simple, right. But there's a little bit more to it when it comes to who else is directly impacted, like Daphne said, so we have the students, we have the alumni, right? We have the nonprofits that are receiving that benefit. But now we also incorporate the donors a little bit more than what donors would normally be included. And we'll get into that. And then we have the universities which tie it all together, right? Tie this ecosystem altogether. So Daphne, where do you think we should take any back in, in terms of where we should go? I mean, we get a lot of questions about this. So what do you think, Daphne,

Daphné Vanessa (13:45): We get so many questions. So one of the biggest questions comes from students asking where does the money come from?

Shamil Rodriguez (13:58): Very good question. That's true. No, seriously. It's one of the first, like, I want to say top three questions. We get, anytime we're presenting our idea or what start do is so the money come from smell. Oh, no, I'm sorry. You asked me, okay, here we go. So no, the money comes from donors, right? It includes university funds. It includes family offices. It includes grants, right? So that's where the money is coming from. But what makes it really interesting for the donors is that it can be tax deductible, right? Because donors can actually give money based on the cause that they want to support. So normally if you're giving a donation, you give the money to the nonprofit and then you just kind of hope that it goes to where it's supposed to go. And that's, that's great because most of the time it does, right.

Shamil Rodriguez (14:40): That's not an, not an issue, but from the donor perspective, you might be feeling like a little bit like, oh, what would it be nice to know a little bit more about where my money is going. And so instead of waiting for that end of the year letter, an email at the end of the year that says like, Hey, this is what we've done. What we do here is we actually allow for donors to have a little bit more transparency and what we call double their impact. And what we mean by that is that now donors, when they give, they can see where the costs, where they were giving it to, right. So they can pick their cause and then they can see which nonprofits benefited from that. So they created opportunities. They can see the opportunities that were actually created and then they can actually see the students as well.

Shamil Rodriguez (15:22): So now they're seeing who has actually doing the volunteer work to make it work, which nonprofits are benefiting. And then they're also seeing which opportunities those nonprofits created, that those funds are actually helping pay off student loan debt or tuition costs. So now your dollar is not just helping one, right? Does adjust the organization, but it's also helping the people that help the organization as well. So you're getting that double, right. You're getting that. Win-Win not just the nonprofit, but the nonprofit and the people that help make the nonprofit run and move forward. So that's, that's where the money come from is, and that's really kind of how it works from that donor perspective. And that answer that question of where the money comes from is what do you think Daphne

Daphné Vanessa (16:05): Super clear to me, but I'm obviously biased.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:10): And

Daphné Vanessa (16:10): To think that it's a good segue into some start news. I almost did the song, but I

Shamil Rodriguez (16:19): We're gonna say we're gonna save everybody's ears for me, trying to help you harmonize because you would do well. But I would not say, go ahead. Definitely. What was that segue into? What started this? Essentially,

Daphné Vanessa (16:29): There's a university called Langston university that just announced it is doing something really radical. The cost of attending school for a certain population of students is being wiped.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:46): Say that again? Hold on, wait one more time. Say that one more time. This university

Daphné Vanessa (16:51): Impacted by COVID Langston university is free.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:55): Wow. Hmm, Hmm, Hmm. I'm going to, I'm going to take a pause to let put in a bomb explosion sound to help represent the head exploding emoji that I would be representing right now. Agreed.

Daphné Vanessa (17:13): Agreed. It's huge. It's massive. Right? And so if we can get more and more universities to embrace this free idea of school, we look like a better place. Our goal is not to be necessary, right? Hopefully in a number of years, we've accomplished the goal of everybody being, having the choice to attend higher education for free cost should not be a reason why you don't pursue the of your dreams. It's just doesn't make sense. And how are people going to be able to be financially empowered if they don't have the education that they need? Now, college is not the only way. Please don't misconstrue. What we're saying as college is the only way that's not the case, but for people that do want to go to college and who do choose careers, where a college degree may be necessary, then you should have the option of going to school for free. And it shouldn't cost taxpayers money. So anyways, that was a piece of really cool news is freedom from tuition for Langston universe.

Shamil Rodriguez (18:28): I, I hope that that more universities think about that, right? Because their students are, are dealing with the stresses of, of the pandemic and then not doing as well, or just trying to figure out how they can afford to pay for school. So they don't have to delay their schooling anymore. I think it's a blessing. I mean, what an honor for that school to do that Langston university leading the way and doing so if there's somebody else out there that's doing this as well, please let us know. But that was amazing. So check it out. Lysine university in Oklahoma leading the way by covering the expenses for people that are, that were at school registered to go to school during the pandemic. That's phenomenal. But you know, I think this is a good segue, Daphne, as you were mentioning here, like what our goal is of, of, of trying to eliminate student loan debt period. But before we get to that point, right? Another great question that we always get is like, how does it work? Right? What do you think? Do you want to sum up how it actually works from like point a to point B for let's say a student or

Daphné Vanessa (19:33): If you want me to sure. Go for it. Okay. Point a student comes into college, sees financial aid package says, man, I can do better. So they take the package and they say, how university I'd like some hours of start new please. And the university says, you're in luck. We've signed up with certain new. Here you go. And so if you are part-time, then you can do up to 40 hours per week. If you are full-time as a student, then you can do up to 20 hours of service per week. And that is because of the department of education and their requirements. But, but these requirements come from the government. The government is saying, if you were a full-time student, please be a full-time student, dedicate your time towards studying, improving, doing better. That's the goal. If you are a full-time student, then be a full-time student, part-time student, be a part-time student, whatever category you fit in stay is what the government say. Now look, we're all for freedom. We're not saying that we knock hustle at all, but we're just being clear and transparent with you about timing so that everybody's has their expectations. So anyways, going back to the process, you, you get your financial aid letter.

Shamil Rodriguez (21:01): I digress.

Daphné Vanessa (21:03): I don't know how he got there. But you get your financial aid letter. You, you decide, okay, I want to get the max hours. If you're full-time, it's 20, you find a nonprofit that you love their work and they need exactly what you have to offer. Let's say you're a marketing student and they're in need of marketing for a campaign that they're running or fundraising strategy that they need to execute. You come out with the marketing plan and then you deliver it to the nonprofit. And the nonprofit says, this is good work. They approve your service and you get paid. But instead of it going into your bank account, it goes directly to your student loans and your tuition. So now

Shamil Rodriguez (21:44): The question that becomes is another fun question we usually get for that is, well then where the service opportunities come from, right? And so that's where the nonprofits come in, right? So they, they are actually on the platform. And when you're searching, you're gonna have to search by your zip code or by an interest that you have. And then those opportunities will come up and then you can select those and go from there. So the nonprofits are on the platform. They're creating service opportunities for you to take advantage of if you are a student in this scenario, this hypothetical that we're talking about. So that's how that would work. And a big reason for what Dan is talking about before the department of education. And, and you know, if you're looking at your financial aid package and you're saying, oh man, there's a gap I need to fill it.

Shamil Rodriguez (22:29): Well, that's the idea is that, you know, we, that starting to serve as a tool in your toolkit that allows for you to help bridge the gap. If you do have one, or if you've got student loans and you're falling a little short, or you want to make some extra payments on the principal to save yourself years of interest payments, then you can use, start new as well to do the same thing. So that's, that's how that would work. That's, that's a really good summary definitely of how that, that would come together. What about that, another question that we usually get is do them, does the money go directly to the nonprofits? That is a common question. That is a common question. So that is not what happens. The money. Yep. Nope. So the funds are, are not given to the nonprofits directly.

Shamil Rodriguez (23:15): They actually, so the money goes from the donors through the website and through the website to the student loan company, the servicer or the university that you were going to school. So there it's very clean and straight to the point. And then the question that a lot of people ask is, is it tax deductible? And I'd mentioned that before that it will be tax deductible, if it is given to a general cause, right? Let's say if it's given to, let's say saving animals or helping children in school or serving the homeless soup kitchen, right? All of that, it would be tax deductible, but here's the twist. Let's say you are having a birthday and you know, it's an independent, which is happening now. And you say, you know what, we can't come together. Or, you know, instead of coming together to go to the bar and get some drinks, we're taking me out to dinner how about you give to me and allowing for me to help a nonprofit, how about instead of giving me, you know, $50, a $5 Amazon gift card, you get $50 towards me helping a nonprofit, which then helps me pay my student loans, right.

Shamil Rodriguez (24:19): Or helps me cover my tuition costs. So there's that twist if you actually getting a direct donation to you, but that is not tax deductible. Which is another question that we get when it, when we get the question is, is it is the donation tax deductible. But they're, you know, those are, those are the two ways that you can. So if you want it to be a, you know, extra motivated and or use a holiday or upcoming birthday to help raise some more funds for your tuition or for your student loan debt payoff you can do that and then let people know, Hey, look, I'm going to be helping this nonprofit in exchange for you giving towards my birthday or Christmas or whatever other holiday you may celebrate. So, you know, those are some ideas out there. Definitely.

Daphné Vanessa (25:01): They're very, very good ideas. We went through the student part, right? We went through the non-profit part. Now let's talk about the university being the foundation of this ecosystem. So where do universities spend all of this? Well, if you haven't noticed enrollment's going down and for those of you think my singing is terrible. You should look at the charts on enrollment. I mean,

Shamil Rodriguez (25:27): AC your goal with that one, but I see where you went.

Daphné Vanessa (25:31): So enrollment is not necessarily performing at its best or all time high as the data experts like to say the all time high has still not been reached years later. So we're in a state where, you know, fewer and fewer people are enrolling in secondary education and that's okay if it means that it's by choice and people are using other solutions. But what actually is happening is that people are not enrolling and then choosing to enroll in maybe a less affordable, more specialized type. Of course, whether that is with a community college or a specific training entity like general assembly, for example, for people who are interested in learning how to code. And so people are diverting their energy towards other places. And so universities have a great opportunity to rebrand pivot and sort of think about what activities can engage the student population and extend how long we remain a nonprofit.

Daphné Vanessa (26:45): And so that's why it's really important to think about retention and enrollment and different ways that you can incentivize students to either come in as a new student that is enrollment or stay and continue to enroll as a post freshmen, which is that's the retention term. And so basically it's getting people to stay at the school, okay. And people are leaving for a variety of reasons. One of which is money, right? Not being able to afford to pay for school. So this solution helps universities incentivize going to their university by providing this double benefit where people are getting work experience and they're able to pay to

Shamil Rodriguez (27:35): Go to school. Absolutely. I think that's a great, a great way to sum it up because universities are getting the opportunity to help benefit people in a way that is a little bit more directed, right. And what started to allow us for universities to do is actually see that data and manage the volunteer process for their students while also making sure that their students are building that real world work experience in a way that will hopefully translate into them getting jobs that are directly related to the field of study, that they went to school for. If that's a van pen and a lot of complaints that people get is that I'm not getting my money's worth from my school because I'm not getting a job that I thought I would get based on going and studying at this school. And so that's where we think that this really comes in handy for universities, because now you can, we've seen this on posts that we make on social media.

Shamil Rodriguez (28:29): We've seen people make comments about what the problem is with higher education student loan debt. And it being that students aren't getting the results that they, they sent that they're sending out for, or that the result of they are getting aren't worth the cost of going to school. And we're not here to debate that. We're just saying that we, this is a great tool and a great way for universities to add, like Daphne had mentioned that win-win, so now students are getting that real world experience. And now they have better odds of landing a job that they thought they were going to land in the first place. And so we see that as a really big win-win and ultimately let's not forget the community is getting a huge benefit, which is always a big variance, right? Definitely a big benefit for, for the community, because that's where the, let's say the relationship between the community that surrounds a university to me is very important. And it's a really important to, to keep that thriving, that relationship. And we think that this is one way that you can also add to that because now your students from your university are going out into the community and providing a support and service and giving those skills that they're developing the university to these nonprofits at a rate that they would never be able to afford

Daphné Vanessa (29:48): That. I mean, you summed it up. That's, that's why we're here to answer the first question again. That is why we're here. We're addressing the whole ecosystem. We're addressing all of the different parts. And so we hope that this was informational to help you understand well, who is start new and why are they all over the student loan podcast? We hope that, that it gave you a little bit of a glimpse into where we are and what we hope to achieve in our lifetime.

Shamil Rodriguez (30:20): I think one way to, to add or sum it up definitely for this episode is, well, what can I do from here right now? The other question is like, what can I use a program? Or what should I do? And so you should definitely visit start new.com to learn more. We have information for each of those groups that we mentioned. If you're a student or alumni, you know, you can find out more information there. If you're a donor and you want to give, you can give directly on the website, if you're a nonprofit and you want to have access to these skilled qualified volunteers that are dependable, because they do have an incentive to be dependable and provide good service, you can find information as well. And the universities, you can also find information on, on the, on start new.com. So go ahead and check us out on the website and then another call to action.

Shamil Rodriguez (31:04): I think that's really great for people to take if they want to is spreading the word, right? Because to bring, start new to your campus is a great way to get this ball rolling for you. And that's how it works once your once your school or university is, is on the start new.com platform, then you can use the service. But one great way to do that for now is to one, create your account, right? Fill it up so that it's ready to go. So when people see your profile, they'll want to give, and then also you can sign a petition to bring the school to your campus so that we know that you want to bring, start new to your school. So if you visit start new.com and on the top map where it says, find your school, did you find and search for your school?

Shamil Rodriguez (31:45): That way you can actually sign the petition to bring starting new to your campus. And I think that would be one key takeaway. If you think this is a good idea, share it with somebody who could benefit from it as well. Cause they can go ahead and create their accounts now. But if you want to bring something to your campus and get involved in this program, the visit, so new.com and sign a petition for your school, and that's going to give us the heads up that you want to come to campus, and then we can let your school know as well that, Hey, your students have already said that they want to bring someone into your campus. So let's get this. I,

Daphné Vanessa (32:16): My cup is full. I hope yours was as well audience, that this was an inspiring episode for you in that it helps you take action. It's one thing to listen to podcast and YouTube videos, et cetera. But it's another thing to take information and listen to it and really harness the power of execution.

Shamil Rodriguez (32:39): Absolutely. All right, everyone. So for more information on today's podcast episode, you can actually visit, start new.com, but you know, we'll try to see if we can sum up these questions that we were answering you, visit the student loan podcast.com/episode 43. That's the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 43.

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