Tracey Hildreth Talks Climb Credit, Student Loans, and Higher Education on the Workforce180 Podcast

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While at the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) Conference earlier this month, Climb Credit team member Tracey Hildreth got the chance to sit down with Doug Foresta of the Workforce180 podcast, to talk about Climb Credit and our work with career-advancing schools. Interested in what she had to say? Take a listen below, or read the full transcript further down!

DOUG: So first of all, this is your first time at the CECU Conference, correct?

TRACEY: Yes! First time representing Climb Credit.

DOUG: Right! To be clear — not Climb Credit’s first time, but your first time.


DOUG: So tell us a little bit about Climb Credit. Who are you, what do you do?

TRACEY: Climb Credit is a company that started about five years ago, and we realized there was a huge opportunity for us and a huge need for students to get some financing for alternate education career schools. So, we began our journey with coding bootcamps and were really really successful with that — helped thousands and thousands of students and schools — so now we’ve kind of opened up our world to other verticals. We’re doing the aviation industry, truck driving, allied health, cosmetology, to go on and on and on. So we’re giving a lot more students real opportunity to pursue their dreams.

DOUG: So tell me a little bit about the difference between Climb Credit and, for example, traditional loans. Like, if I were going to pursue my career education, you know, maybe I’d try to go to the bank to get a loan, or other traditional credit providers. Tell me a little bit about maybe some of the differences.

TRACEY: Sure, sure. We really want to partner and work with good schools that produce good students, and they’re able to get a job quickly after graduation. So what we were seeing is students sometimes didn’t have that 750 credit score. So what we’re doing is we are opening up a world of lending to students, to give them an opportunity to move on with their lives. So, lower credit scores, mid credit scores, higher credit scores, we will work with all the students. When we underwrite loans, we don’t underwrite a loan for who the students is today while applying, but who the student is going to be in the future, once they’ve graduated from the course that they’re taking.

DOUG: You said you partner with good schools, so I assume that you know the average graduate is going to earn X amount of money once they get out. Is that basically the idea?

TRACEY: Correct. And we also know about the school’s placement data, so how many students started, how many will graduate, and really the potential of that student, three months after graduation, to have a job in that field.

DOUG: I think it’s so great because there’s such a vicious cycle that happens to people, where you don’t have a good job, but people won’t give you a chance and you can’t get the training you need to get the good job so that you can get the credit score that you can keep pursuing your education. So I think it really gives people a leg up.

TRACEY: Oh, absolutely, and that’s why we do what we do. And you see students sometimes take an entry-level course, complete that, now they’re working, so they can take an additional course as well. So it’s a career-booster.

DOUG: You mentioned a few of the different things, but sometimes we think of “pursuing education” as either college, or maybe community college, or even … you know, you talked about coding bootcamps and starting from there. Can you tell a little but about some of the range of the different types of education that you would fund?

TRACEY: Sure! Let’s just take allied health, for example. You could start in allied health with a very quick program (3-4 weeks), and then you could build your career into a medical assistant, an LPN. Meanwhile, you’re working. Now you have an income coming in, you can take additional courses and really further your dreams of what you’d like to do. We work with truck driving schools — another very very quick course — but again, there is a high demand for truck drivers.

DOUG: Right, if you have a CDL, you can go anywhere, people will love you.

TRACEY: Yes! Right, and they’re fighting over them at graduations, for them to come onto their carriers. Same thing with aviation now. Statistics show 2-3 years from now, there’ll be a huge deficit in this country of pilots, so now we've partnered with a whole bunch of aviation schools to kind of fill that gap of what we're gonna need a few years from now.

DOUG: And again, these are things that we don't traditionally associate, right, when we think about pursuing additional education. And I don't think of being a pilot as something that — you know, I wouldn't even know where to go, how do I get funds to get pilot training?

TRACEY: You know, cosmetology schools — it's wonderful, now they are kind of adding more programs onto their curriculum, so you could be a skincare technician … a nail technician … the new rage is all eyelashes and eyebrows, so you can take additional courses in that as well. You may not have all of the money today, but you know what? You can pay it off over the next 24-36 months, so this is giving students a real opportunity to kind of extend the knowledge they already have.

DOUG: So do you work with these schools, or do you work also directly with the students? In other words, if I'm a student, would I contact Climb Credit directly, or would I go through my school to access this?

TRACEY: We partner with schools, so once a school is a partner, then their students could apply for Climb lending. So they can apply on the school's website … they can go right to the Climb website … so we're going to actually increase the enrollment for schools because students are going to come directly to us. So they can just go to our website, see a state or course they want to take, and they've already been approved for the loan before the school even knows they're around. So it works really well for the students and the schools.

DOUG: So if I'm a school and I'm looking to maybe partner with Climb Credit to offer more options to my students because I imagine that's a win for me too as a school because then my students could afford to come, how would I go about doing that?

TRACEY: You could call me at 516-581-1539. You can go on our website — you can put your information in as a school, and someone will get back in touch with you within 24 hours.

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