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In the past decade, the demand for private student loans has grown to over $23 billion annually. In response, MICUA has launched the Maryland Student Loan Marketplace to help students and their families navigate college financing. The Marketplace is an online, education financing resource that allows participating institutions to provide students with a transparent process to evaluate private loans, encourages students to engage in smart borrowing practices, and provides existing and new lenders with a way to reach qualified borrowers with targeted products. The site was developed in partnership with Overture Technologies and in collaboration with the California and Ohio associations of independent colleges and universities.
The service includes access to the Learning Center, a proprietary product developed by Overture Technologies. The Center educates students about financing education, encourages students to apply for grants and scholarships and federally subsidized student loans first, and advises students to use private student loans as a last resort. The Marketplace is available to students free of charge. A small fee will be required if the student/family seeks to pull a credit check for a comprehensive loan comparison. MICUA receives no compensation for its part in developing and managing the site.
With traditional lenders and finance companies scaling back their operations in the wake of the credit crisis, regional and community banks and credit unions have a unique opportunity to step in and serve a new generation of customers. Private student lending is a valuable way for regional and community banks and credit unions to serve their local communities.