Express loans are available from the Districts Institute for Financial Education of UAB in less than 24 hours. They can help any Blazer student experiencing an unexpected loss of income, housing, medical problems, or a transportation emergency.
Written by: Matt Windsor
Media contact: Savannah Koplon
The University of Alabama Birmingham Regions Institute of Financial Education, or RIFE, microloans help any Blazer student fix a tire, rent, or other emergency—with money available in less than 24 hours and zero interest if paid in 90 days.
Escape from a whirlpool
More and more students are experiencing financial hardship, says Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., director of the institute and program maker. Something as small as a flat tire can quickly turn into a school exit.
“Your car broke down on the way to school, so you missed class,” Yates said. “You can’t go to work, so you miss work shifts and all of a sudden you can’t pay the rent. It all adds up. We thought, ‘If we can find a way to help the student get that frame, it will prevent all these other things.'”
Yates spoke with Collat School of Business Dean Eric Jack, Ph.D., and suggested a source of funds: a $25,000 fund that was originally created to help students after the deadly 2011 hurricanes. Help Yates students set the rules for the microcredit program:
- Get money for those who need it most,
- Keep a reserve so that emergency needs can always be met
- Enjoy the flexibility of offering non-emergency loans.
Priority is given to real emergencies, including:
- decrease in profit
- Transportation issues
- Housing issues or difficult living situations
- medical expenses
“It’s very helpful for students who have a gap between when the semester starts and when their financial aid arrives,” Yates said. “By far, the majority of loans are paid off within 90 days, and very few students have paid the interest. That’s not your gotcha.”
The interest rate is 6 percent, starting from day 91. In fact, the goal is to offer an alternative to payday loans, property loans, and pawn shops.
Members of the student-led Green & Gold Fund have written an investment policy to help the fund manager grow while staying safe. They also sit on the loan committee (all identifying information for fellow students is removed).
The goal is to “continue to provide this resource for a long time,” says Jackie Dang, senior funder and member of the Green & Gold Fund and RIFE Portfolio Manager. “It was a useful experience to know that I am part of an organization that does what we can to help the students of the League of Arab States.”
This is open to all UAB students. Any UAB student can apply for a small loan, Yates said, “We try very hard to make it as quick and painless as possible.”