Is a college education a good investment? Warren Buffett has often quipped, before audiences of business-school students, that he would pay $100,000 for 10% of a student’s future earnings.
One new website, Upstart (www.upstart.com), allows some of us to make a similar move. “Accredited investors”—generally, those who earned $200,000 or more in each of the last two years, or have a net worth of more than $1 million, not including a primary residence—can loan money to a specific recent graduate in exchange for a portion of his or her income for the next 10 years. The money can be used for any purpose, and some of the initial graduates have used it to help with student debt.
The service, which launched in August, is offered at Stanford University, the Rhode Island School of Design and 28 other schools.
Upstart is part of a new wave of online services promising to help family, friends and even strangers cover students’ rising college costs. Many of these “crowdfunding” websites make contributing as easy as sharing vacation photos on Facebook . Other sites help students land loans.