NextGenVest’s Text-Based Service Helps Keep Students Out of Debt

NextGenVest’s Text-Based Service Helps Keep Students Out of Debt

The Student Powered Company is Hiring More Paid Interns

Student debt in this country has surpassed the $1.2 trillion mark. The average student loan debt for the class of 2015 is $35,000. Those are big numbers that are having a huge impact on the financial futures of every college student and recent graduate that is or will struggle to pay back student loans.

A New York based start-up, NextGenVest is leading the charge and tackling the student loan debt crisis head on. Kelly Peeler, founder of NextGenVest started the company to increase financial literacy among high school and college students. NextGenVest offers a free text messaging service that helps students navigate the tricky and confusing financial aid and student loan processes. Kelly is motivated by the belief that student loan debt is the #1 barrier holding students back from pursuing their passions and changing the world for the better.

Meet your money mentor

“Our service saves every student time and money with one of the largest financial decisions they will ever make” says Peeler. NextGenVest brands itself as the “money mentor for every student”. Students have access to a real live money mentor 24/7 to ask questions and get advice on applying for financial aid, looking for scholarships, interpreting financial aid award letters, writing financial aid appeals to more day-to-day activities like creating a monthly budget. Money mentors are current college students who have been through the financial aid process themselves. In addition to being able to ask questions, students also receive frequent text reminders about financial aid and scholarship deadlines to help them stay on track.

In the past year, NextGenVest has saved students $256,000 in tuition costs and facilitated access to $154 million in federal financial aid. “We encourage students into taking smaller actions over text to help improve their financial behavior patterns before they make what could be a big financial mistake” adds Peeler. The goal is to create more informed students who are able to make smart decisions about paying for college.

This service is free and Peeler intends to keep it that way. The other arm of the NextGenVest business offers a financial literacy course that is taught in high schools across the country. The course covers student loans, health insurance, budgeting, investing and other financial matters. Teachers can purchase access to the online educational platform for use in their classrooms from NextGenVest.

Texting over talking

textpicWhile parents are more comfortable with picking up a phone to talk, this service isn’t for them. The service is text-based because that has proven to be the preferred method of communication for most students. NextGenVest is about empowering students, giving them information, and teaching them how to advocate and take action for themselves. It is important that students start learning earlier the effects of what they are signing on for when they take out student loans.

For the many students whose parents are unable to assist in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) NextGenVest fills the gap. Sometimes there is a language barrier, other times there is a financial literacy barrier or parents working too many hours to be greatly involved. As a first-generation student, I actually filled out my own FAFSA when I applied to college. Although supportive of my education, my parents didn’t really understand the form so they gave me their taxes and all of the information I asked for and I did it myself. For students in those situations, being able to send a free text message and get a response from someone who has been there before, for free, is invaluable.

Join the money movement

NextGenVest is currently accepting applications for fall interns. It is a student powered company, built for and powered by students. Internships with NextGenVest are not brand ambassador roles, they are true learning experiences designed to provide participants with the skills employers look for. This is not your coffee getting, paper copying, learn nothing type of deal. It was actually an intern who first proposed the idea of using text as the main platform and interns contributed greatly to the current website design.

This position pays $10 per hour and can be done remotely. You don’t have to be a math whiz or finance major to apply. “We accept all majors. The more important thing is that you’ve gone through the financial aid process because if you have, you know how much it sucks! We look for passionate students who care about our mission” says Peeler. If you are not motivated by this being a paid internship, you should know that on average interns make $15,000 more per year than their classmates who don’t do them. It is time for you to find your next internship opportunity.

NextGenVest looks for creative thinkers who will raise their hands if they see something that can be improved and want to learn everything from business, to marketing to communication strategy to data analysis. A company that believes in professional development, Peeler personally spends time with each intern through 1-on-1 advice sessions to talk about everything from student loans to career development.

Internships last for about two-months and are limited to small cohort’s so that everyone can gain leadership experience. The two-month time frame is also great because it provides the flexibility students want during the school year to work around finals, classes and projects. In that short time you can also make some money, develop your leadership skills and accomplish tangible tasks. Act fast and apply today, the deadline for the next cohort is July 30th.

If you need help in applying for this, or any other internship download my free internship manual toolkit so that you can stay on track.

Millennials Having Buyer’s Remorse Over Student Loans

Millennials Having Buyer’s Remorse Over Student Loans

According to a new survey by Citizens Bank, 57% of millennial graduates regret taking out as many loans as they did, and 36% even said that they would not have gone to college if they knew how much it was going to cost them.

You have been told for many years that a college education is the key to unlocking the American dream. Unfortunately for too many students, they wake up from that dream and face the nightmare of massive amounts of student loan debt. Go to college, get a degree, have the best 4-years of your life, jump into high paying successful career. Seems simple enough right?

Truth is no one ever stops to talk about the potholes that you must avoid on the path to that high paying career. Some of the highlights…

If more students and families were armed with better information before choosing a college, perhaps the willingness to sign on the dotted line for student loans would decrease. The buyers remorse is real. There are a lot of college grads re-thinking if the debt was worth the degree.

Getting a degree isn’t the issue, it never has been. It’s learning and understanding HOW to get a degree without taking on crippling student loan debt. For those who have taken on student loans (just like I did) it is about understanding how to live below your means after that first job, and paying them off as quickly as possible.

If you are dealing with back-breaking student loans there are simple changes you can make to sart seeing the light.

  1. Get on a budget. You probably have more money than you thought available. Squeeze out extra to pay off more of your loans.
  2. Look into loan forgiveness programs if you work in certain professions – usually teaching or non-profit work.
  3. Stay at home for a little while to keep your expenses down. If you have the option of going home, do it for a little while so you can get a jump starts on kicking your debts to the curb.
  4. Understand how to make yourself more employable and start earning wait you deserve. Find your career passion and the money will follow.

Read a few inspirational stories of people who were able to pay off their debts. This couple paid of $100,000 in student loans with no plans of letting their children ever do the same.

The more money you make of course, the more money you can throw at your student loan debt. If your problem is that you are a recent graduate and you are unemployed or underemployed, let me show you 4 quicks tips to help you find your dream job today.

Resources to Help Get Your Money Right:

How to Find Internships That Get You Great Jobs

How to Find Internships That Get You Great Jobs

More employers are looking for students fresh out of college who have work experience.

Internships are the best way to gain this experience, and there are plenty to be found, if you know where to look.

Listen to my segment as guest expert on The College Prep Podcast. Learn about:

  • why graduating in four years (rather than staying in for six) saves you $40K a year
  • why internships are so important for the college experience (and for setting you up to get great jobs later)
  • where to find the best internships, for both college and high school students
  • how to make sure you’re getting the most out of your internships
  • how many internships is the right amount to set you up for career success after college,
    and more!




Listen Now!





Paying Sallie Mae Back

Paying Sallie Mae Back

I absolutely love this!  New Orleans rapper Dee-1, a 2009 graduate of Louisiana State University celebrated paying back his Sallie Mae student loans with a new song. After college, David Augustine Jr. or Dee-1 taught middle school math in Baton Rouge. After a few years, he decided to move on from teaching and pursue his musical dreams. In 2014, his efforts paid off as he was signed to a major label, RCA Inspiration. When faced with the decision of what to do with his advance from the label, he made the mature decision to pay back his student loans! With nearly 340,000 views this video is striking a cord with college graduates all over the country.

The student loan debt crisis in the country has hit $1.4 trillion. High school teaches you how to get into college, but no one is teaching students how to “do” college. I believe that it is possible to graduate in four-years, it is possible to avoid or minimize student loan debt, it is possible to complete multiple internships and have employers chasing after you when you graduate. I’m on a mission to help you understand the simple steps to graduate on time, save money and launch your career.

Check out this great resource, MoneyUnder30, for guidance and advice for paying off student loan debt as fast as possible.

Failing to Graduate in 4-Years Costs You More Than Just Time

Failing to Graduate in 4-Years Costs You More Than Just Time

Busting the Four-Year Graduation Myth

Are you on the 4, 5 or 6 year plan for getting your degree? Obviously spending extended time in college means spending, well more time in college. What a lot of people ignore is that the longer it takes to graduate college the more money you spend too. Unfortunately, the cost of extending your college education beyond four years adds up quickly to the tune of about $23,000 per extra year.

Myth: 4 Yr Graduation MythMost students graduate college in four years
Truth: According to the the National Center on Education Statistics: The 2013 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2007 was 59 percent. You read that right, nearly 60% of students graduated in six years.


4 yr graduation


What does one extra year cost you in tuition, fees, room and board?
[icon type=”toggle-right”] Two-Year Public College: $15,933
[icon type=”toggle-right”] Four-Year Public College: $22,826

Chew on this. The average starting salary for the class of 2014 was $48,127 (Liberal Arts: $38k, Business $49k , Engineering $65k). By tacking on one extra year in college you also miss out on a year of salary. Add it all up and that 5th year in college could cost you $70,953! Now consider that many students are graduating in six years, and count up the money those students are leaving on the table. 

Can you afford to walk away from $70,000? When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You need a plan. Even if you have already started college, you need a game plan to make sure things don’t overlooked. Get started by downloading my free guide 5 Tips to Make Sure Your Graduate in 4 Years right now! Don’t fail to take action and don’t settle for average!


To Be a Success You Have to First Take a Risk

To Be a Success You Have to First Take a Risk

For college students, January means the arrival of the spring semester. When the calendar turns to 2016 it could mark the beginning of your last semester as a college student, or the start of the completion of your freshman year. No matter your class standing, I want this new year to represent something other than another 15 weeks of classes. Let 2016 be the year you begin to take more risks.

I’m not asking you to be more open to taking risks as a resolution, but as a philosophy. All too often I meet students who shy away from opportunity and count themselves out before they even try. The success stories I share about students who have gone on to land great internships and launch their careers, are success stories because they took a risk. They took a chance and applied, they took a chance and talked to a recruiter, they took a chance and made a phone call, they took a chance and sent an email.

Taking risks is also not just about doing things that line up perfectly with your preset goals. Don’t go after only what is comfortable. A risk could mean diverting your course for an opportunity that presents itself. Perhaps you apply for an internship with X company for a certain position but they offer you an internship in a different department. Take the chance and get exposed to something new, don’t run way because it doesn’t fit into your perfect plan. There are many people doing careers they love now, who discovered talents or passions because they took a risk and explored something new.

I know the idea of taking a risk can be intimidating. Don’t let fear and doubt creep in because you don’t have a 4.0, aren’t super involved in everything on campus, have no previous experience, or don’t have the “right” major. Furthermore, don’t get intimidated and not apply to the best internships because you don’t attend what others may consider to be a more prestigious university.

Steps to Success

Shift your focus to what you do have. You have earned the right to sit in a college classroom and learn, you’ve earned the right to prepare for a bright future, you’ve worked for the opportunity to pursue a career you can love. Taking risks will be an integral part of your career path. Taking risks will be a necessary part to you achieving the success you desire.

The summer before my sophomore year I applied to intern with the Rochester Red Wings AAA baseball team. I had good grades, I had some part-time work experience, I played sports in high school and I had the right attitude to want to learn. What I didn’t have was a four-year college on my resume. Even though I’d gotten into five four-year colleges, my parents thought it best to save money and go to the community college (you can read more of this story in my book, The Internship Manual).  Ultimately, I got the internship. I was the only intern out of 12 from the community college. I could have easily talked myself out of applying for the internship because of where I was in my educational journey. I was prepared, so I took a chance and it worked in my favor.

One of my best friends, during her senior year in college contemplated applying to Teach for America, a very competitive non-profit organization that provides teachers for low-income schools. Annually they receive over 40,000 applications and accept only 15 percent into the teaching corps. She was concerned because she had a major in Health Sciences with just below a 3.0 GPA from a public university. We talked. She took a risk and applied anyway without much belief that she would get in. She did of course get offered the position and started her teaching career with them. She has since served as the Principal at three elementary schools. She was prepared, she just needed to take the chance, to put herself out there.

In my five years as senior manager for a national internship program, I lead the efforts to place over 400 interns with some of the largest media companies in the world. Yearly the program placed only about 10 percent of applicants into internships. What did all of the interns have in common? They all had to decide to apply and take a risk despite the apparent odds being against them. Some of my students never thought they would get to work for companies like ESPN, HBO, Showtime, Viacom, Comcast, NBCUniversal and others. I’ll let you in on a secret, not every intern I placed had a 4.0 GPA and an Ivy League education (most didn’t). Another secret, some of the students I placed applied to the program multiple times before getting their dream internship.

Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.

Just because you choose to take a risk doesn’t mean it will happen for you immediately. I am not talking about overnight, instant, microwave success because you see something you want. I am talking risk with preparation and thought. What I see often is students who are prepared, who are ready but who don’t take the plunge. Who get nervous that they aren’t good enough so they stay on the sidelines while others who are less prepared scoop up opportunity.

You are good enough and in 2016 you need to get off the sidelines. Regardless of the result, you need to move towards goals that you have have previously thought outside of your reach. There is a lot to be said for passion and fire but there are also some tangible things you need to bring to the table to get that dream internship or eventual dream job. Figure out what they are for you then move forward by learning, challenging yourself, pushing your limits and preparing for it.

Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. Are you prepared to take that risk?