5 startups helping to tackle the student debt crisis

Marco Logiudice examines the rise in financial wellbeing startups for students, as triggered by the rising cost of living.

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According to the British Council, the cost of living whilst studying in the UK can reach as high as £1,300 per month. In London, this rises to £1,400 – a figure that’s more than most side hustlers earn.

For young people, this piggy bank should cover bills, groceries, and a range of other living expenses. But few make it past the first hurdle of accommodation. Average student rent has increased by 14.6% in the last two years, while maintenance loans have only risen by 5.2%.

According to research conducted by my company, Prograd, 53% of young people in the UK have considered not going to university at all because of the cost.

Many Gen Zers are now trying to pay their own way to an education, leading to a dramatic surge in student entrepreneur numbers. 4,093 businesses were registered by students in 2022, a year-on-year uplift of 400%.

Money troubles

Our findings at Prograd are even more concerning alongside the fact that nearly half of the UK's young people are financially vulnerable. Lots of students have no savings, and a huge 76% have less than £1,000 in their bank accounts – barely covering a month's expenses.

Accessing free and reliable money guidance can be challenging. When I was at university, I found it impossible to get advice from a place that spoke to me as a young person.

The good news is that the startup world is rallying around the youth of today. In response to their growing financial needs, several companies have come to their aid. These companies exist to help people, particularly younger people, navigate their spending journeys.

1. Prograd

Started as a way to help me navigate the cost of university, I co-founded Prograd to provide Gen Z with insights and services that help them fund their future. Whether it’s a new home, paying off student loans, or simply keeping up with the rising cost of living, I built it as a one-stop-shop to earn, save, invest and even get discounts.

At Prograd, we take a data-led approach to helping young people manage their money. That’s why we also use AI and alternative data points to offer personalised accounting guidance to all of our 130,000 members. Through Prograd, my company mission is to build a world where finance information is accessible, and free, to all.

2. Your Juno

Focused on empowering women and non-binary individuals, Your Juno offers guidance through various life stages. It was founded by sisters Margot and Alexia de Broglie, who noticed a significant gender gap in banking literacy during the pandemic.

Whether you’re a student, entering your first job or trying to negotiate your pension, the platform is designed to be with you every step of the way. By providing financial knowledge and confidence, Your Juno aims to give its users the freedom to pursue their goals and improve their financial wellbeing, whatever life stage they are at.

3. Moneyfarm

Moneyfarm is redefining wealth management with its digital platform. With over 125,000 active investors and £3.5 billion in investments, it's one of the leading fintechs in Europe, and combines both tech and human expertise to help young people feel comfortable to invest.

It might sound crazy to Gen Z to think about investing while struggling to keep up with everyday expenses. But the sooner they start, the more their money can compound. By encouraging students to plan for the future, Moneyfarm ensures they are setting up a financial safety net.

4. Doshi

Doshi takes a unique approach to money talk by merging education with gamification. It’s true that economics can be dull, but Doshi aims to overcome that by using games to help young people understand how to make good monetary decisions.

The Doshi app lets users engage in gamified learning and competitions to understand the financial basics. From opening savings accounts to home buying, Doshi’s mission is to make budgeting education accessible and enjoyable, helping people of all ages to reach financial independence.

5. Snoop

Snoop is a money management app that allows people to have a 360 view of their banking. It helps track purchases, set budgets, and find savings opportunities.

The app’s unique feature is its personalised money-saving suggestions, which are tailored to individual spending patterns and needs. This is perfect for students or anyone who needs guidance, or doesn’t really know where to start. Handily, Snoop also allows its users to connect all of their banks and credit cards, so users can see all of their transactions in one place.

Conclusion

Startups have a long history of paving the way for societal change and progress. Financial literacy is not just nice-to-have; it’s a human right. As student debt reaches crisis point, it’s great to see so many startups emerging to offer young people a helping hand.

Through a combination of technology, personalised experiences, insights and community, we are uniting to make student life affordable to everyone, no matter their background. With our efforts, we can help young people to solve their single biggest cause of stress and anxiety.

Marco Logiudice, co-founder of Prograd

Logiudice is an innovator in Gen Z financial literacy. His journey began in 2019, inspired by the challenge of funding his postgraduate studies. Along with Ethan Fraenkel, he created Prograd in 2021, a platform offering free, personalised financial guidance. Prograd has grown significantly under Marco and Ethan’s leadership, raising over £2.8 million and aiding over 60,000 users monthly.

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