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The Debt Free, One Year College Alternative At MissionU

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We’re very excited to have found this guest and bring him to you. Today we’re joined by the founder of MissionU, Adam Braun, to discuss the debt free, one-year college alternative.

We have covered the problem of student debt many times and we are always trying to find alternative ways to get a good education without being saddled with debt. Today we will show you a  way not only to get a great education that will put you on the path to a great career without incurring debt but also takes a fraction of the time that getting a traditional college education takes.

What is MissionU?

Adam Braun founded Pencils of Promise in 2008. The non-profit builds schools and increases educational opportunities in the developing world. After Adam wrote his book, The Promise of a Pencil, he began speaking about it on all sorts of college campuses. He found all of the students had the same concern, the cost of higher education in America.

He also had some personal experience with student loan debt, his wife having graduated with $100,000 of it. Adam started to research debt free college alternatives and that’s how MissionU was born.

What’s Wrong With College?

Part of the research involved speaking to employers. He found that students who had traditional college degrees didn’t have the skills employers were looking for. MissionU partnered with companies like Lyft, Uber, Spotify, and Warby Parker among them, to learn what employers needed in employees and found that candidates who had graduated from traditional colleges were lacking certain skills.

Employers want employees who have a passion and conviction for the work being done. They want soft skills like effective written and verbal communication, people who work well within a team, people with critical thinking and problem solving skills.

They also needed the hard skills like Excel modeling and while colleges were teaching theory on hard skills, they weren’t necessarily equipping students with hard practical skills. Employers have had a big hand in helping MissionU design their curriculum.

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Getting Into MissionU

The students MissionU target are between the ages of 19-29 but there are students older than that. Ideally students have spent some time working or in college but a four year degree is not required. MissionU does not look at a potential student’s GPA or SAT scores.

The application process happens in steps. You answer some questions about your background, go through a series of online problem solving models, participate in a group project after which you assess your own and your team’s performance, write an essay about why you want to attend MissionU, and then do an in-person interview.

Ugh, group project? I guess that leaves the introverts out. Not at all! In fact, it’s the non-stop extroverts that will fair worse. When you never stop talking and trying to dominate a group dynamic, you tend not to be the ideal team player and being a team player is something both MissionU and employers are looking for.

MissionU has three start dates throughout the year. Currently they operate in the San Francisco area and students must be willing to locate to within 50 miles of that location. Housing is not provided but MissionU does help students find housing.

San Francisco is expensive but students spend about 40 hours per week on their studies Monday through Friday leaving enough time to work part time to help cover living expenses. And part of the curriculum includes paid internships. MissionU is planning to open in additional cities in 2018.

Each class gets more than 5,000 applicants but only 30 students are accepted. Students have one month to decide if the program is a fit for them. The program starting in January 2018 offers a major in data analytics and business intelligence.

The Cost

Okay, this all sounds great. What’s the catch? Probably costs a fortune. No! There is no upfront tuition. Let me repeat that. It cost ZERO DOLLARS upfront to attend MissionU.

The last six weeks of the program are devoted to helping students develop the skills they need to land a job, including resume help, interview and even negotiating skills. Once a graduate is making at least $50,000, they commit 15% of their salary for three years to MissionU. What happens if a graduate never reaches that $50,000 threshold? They don’t pay. And there is no interest involved, just that 15% for three years.

What kind of salaries can students expect after completing the program? Of course it varies by company and area but graduates are making between $60-$100,000 once they start working. This is higher than the average starting salaries for college graduates in 2017 which is $49,785. And MissionU grads are graduating without the debt of the average college graduate which is $37,172 for 2016 graduates.

Opportunity Cost

An opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. If you go to college, you lose the income you would have made if you spent that time working for example.

So you lose four years of income when you choose college over a job. But it’s not four years for most. Only 18% of people graduate in four years. It now takes the average person six years to get a four year degree. Completing the MissionU program takes just one year and part of that time is spent doing a paid internship so the opportunity cost for MisssionU is much smaller than for a college degree.

Will Anyone Hire You?

You might be nervous to start applying for jobs without having a college degree to put on your resume. But who is doing the hiring? It’s Millennials. When we hear that word we think of teenagers or people in their early 20’s but Millennials are those born between 1982-2002 so now, the oldest Millennials are 35.

And no group has been harder hit by student loan debt than Millennials so that you found a way to acquire the skills that an employer is looking for without saddling yourself with crippling debt is going to be looked on favorably by the person doing the hiring.

And because MissionU partners with companies to design their curriculum and to provide internships to their students, they are familiar with the program. MissionU currently works with ten corporate partners and are planning to add more.

Only the Best for You!

We were thrilled to interview Adam and learn about MissionU. We want to provide our listeners with the best tools available to help them to take control of their financial lives and to avoid debt which hampers efforts to achieve financial independence.

A debt free college alternative can put you several steps ahead on the road to financial independence. If you are thinking about attending college, are currently in college, or have had to leave college because of the expense, consider taking the path that MissionU is creating.

And to sweeten the deal even more,when you fill out the application, under the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section, mention Listen Money Matters and once accepted into the program, you will receive a $500 credit towards your income share agreement!

Show Notes

[email protected]: Adam’s e-mail if you have questions about MissionU.

Tool Box: All the best stuff to manage your money.

Instagram: Follow MissionU

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Candice Elliott - Senior Editor Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

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