$250 million in MBA loans secured: Get the lowest private student loan rates with Juno

After being admitted to Harvard Business School, Chris Abkarians gathered 700 students from 10 schools and negotiated lower rates for the entire group, saving around $15,000 each. Together with his classmate, Nikhil Agarwal, Chris co-founded Juno, a student-first initiative offering lower rates on student loans. MBAGRADSCHOOLS spoke to Chris about Juno, how it works, and what advice he has for students to make their MBA financing less daunting.

In short

What is Juno and how does it help students?

In a nutshell, Juno gets the lowest-rate private student loans for thousands of students every year.

What do you have to do?

“It’s as simple as signing up for a mailing list with no obligation,” Chris explains. “So, you as a student would tell us some really basic information, like where you’re going to school, what year you’re graduating, and then we make it optional for you to answer questions about your self-reported credit score, your self-reported income, and how much you’d like to borrow.” (13:04)

“The only reason we collect that data is because we spend almost all of our time talking to these different lenders and trying to pitch them on the group that we put together to get them excited for our aggregate business,” Chris adds. (13:53)

After learning a bit more about you and your financial situation, Juno then runs “a bidding process between banks, credit unions, and other companies. They compete for our collective business by offering exclusive discounts and rewards,” as their website states. Juno then compares all offers, negotiates terms, and selects the best options for the group.

“What we stand for at the end of the day is making sure that we can help our members access the best financial products at the best price,” Chris says. (12:13)

No application or acceptance letter required

Besides low student loan rates, students can also expect to receive valuable advice and guidance from Juno when it comes to financing their MBA.

And you don’t need to have an application or acceptance letter to sign up.

“We’re more than happy to help because we were in the same shoes very, very recently, Chris says. “No application is required, no acceptance is required. We’ll do our best to provide the best advice that we can on any topic related to this experience.” (15:36)

Don’t let student loans affect the rest of your life

With over 60,000 members and more than $250 million in loans secured, Juno is using the power of community and a student-first approach to provide much-needed financial support for MBA students.

After all, hefty student loans can affect the rest of your life. “It’s something that impacts a lot of my friends today and myself,” Chris admits. “If you do have a large debt payment you have to make after you graduate, it does change some of the choices that you might have otherwise made.” (09:24)

Currently, Juno is aimed towards US students studying in US schools. International students: you’re next.

“We’re working very hard every day to find different funding sources who can provide the capital to international students,” Chris tells us. Juno recently launched a partnership with Nomad Credit to provide exclusive benefits to Juno members who are international students studying in US programs. “Hopefully, that’s a start in the right direction and we’ll see where we go from there,” Chris says. (17:32)

Chris’ #1 tip: Always negotiate!

“Figuring out how to pay for your MBA or how much you should pay for an MBA can be quite daunting,” Chris says. “A lot of people don’t worry about what the cost is going to look like until after they’ve gotten in somewhere, which is completely fine and totally rational.” (04:38)

Chris’ top tip to reduce the burden of what you pay to schools is: Negotiate!

“We’ve learned this from a lot of our Juno members who have tried this,” he tells us. “There is an ability to negotiate the amount that you’re going to pay the school.” (05:10)

Oftentimes, schools will reserve part of their financial aid budget in order to “win” someone who might be admitted to more than one school. “It’s not going to hurt you to simply ask for more help or to ask for a little bit more money,” Chris urges. “Once you’ve gotten in, they’re not going to rescind your acceptance.” (05:43)

“If you’re not going to ask for a little bit more, somebody else is and they’re going to get it – so just do it,” he adds. (05:57)

Once you know the final amount you need to pay, that’s where Juno comes in, to “virtually guarantee the lowest set of rates” available to you. (06:18)

Compare, compare, compare

“Because it’s a daunting decision, a lot of people sometimes have their head in the sand and want to put it off as long as they can,” Chris says. (10:45)

However, Chris insists that students “do more comparison shopping on this than on any other purchase they’ve previously made because, in all likelihood, it is in a way the most expensive purchase that you’ve made today.” (11:07)

“I’ve been surprised by the number of people I know who might’ve spent more time comparing the laptop model of what they were buying to [the price of going] to business school and the financing options for the entirety of the program,” he says. (11:20)

And, of course, Juno is always here to help.

“This is a huge decision…and if you need any advice in making that decision or trying to determine what the best offer you have between multiple different offers are, then by all means please reach out to our team,” Chris says. “We have many calculators that you can use, different tools you can use, and different people you can talk to…so, compare things and ask for help and it will work out fine.” (20:04)

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