Income Sharing Agreements (Isa): A New Way To Pay For College

Income Sharing Agreements (ISA) have emerged as a new way to pay for college. ISAs are an alternative to traditional student loans, offering students the opportunity to receive funding for their education in exchange for a percentage of their future income. This article provides an overview of how ISA’s work and examines the potential benefits and drawbacks compared to other financing options. It is important to consider all available payment methods before deciding which type of loan will best meet one’s needs.

An Income Sharing Agreement allows a person to receive money from an investor or lender in order to cover part or all of the costs associated with attending college. In return, the individual agrees to share a set portion of his/her post-graduation earnings over a specified period of time with the investor/lender. The terms can vary depending on the agreement but generally require repayment until either the amount borrowed has been paid back or a predetermined number of payments have been made by the borrower.

ISAs offer several advantages compared to more traditional forms of educational finance such as federal student loans, private student loans, grants and scholarships. One key benefit is that they typically involve lower upfront costs than these alternatives due to not requiring credit checks or collateral. Additionally, since incomes fluctuate over time, borrowers may end up paying less overall if their salary rises significantly after graduation while still staying within fixed parameters laid out in the agreement beforehand. Finally, unlike most types of loans there isn’t any immediate burden upon completion or deferment periods; instead repayments begin immediately once employed at whatever rate was agreed upon previously.



An Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) is a contract between an investor and student, where the investor agrees to provide financial support for a student’s tuition costs in exchange for a percentage of their income after graduation. ISAs are designed to bridge the gap between traditional funding sources such as scholarships and grants, and high-interest loan programs that can place students into debt upon graduating. The agreement typically lasts between one and five years depending on the amount invested and the program chosen by the student.

ISAs benefit both investors and students because they offer more flexibility than traditional loans; investors receive a return on investment based on future earnings which could exceed traditional returns from stocks or bonds, while students are not required to make payments until being employed with sufficient income. In addition, if the student does not find employment within a certain timeframe or does not earn enough during that period, then no payment is due under the terms of the agreement. This provides greater assurance to students who may be worried about taking out large loans without knowing whether they will have consistent employment upon graduation.



The use of Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as an alternative to traditional forms of payment for college tuition has many advantages. Firstly, students are not required to take out high-interest loans and incur long-term debt. By paying a predetermined percentage of their income over a set period of time, they can avoid the burden of loan repayment while still enjoying the benefits of higher education.

Secondly, ISAs provide greater flexibility in terms of when payments begin and how much is paid back. For example, if a student’s income during their post-college years is lower than expected due to economic recession or other circumstances, then those payments could be delayed or reduced accordingly.

Thirdly, these agreements provide educational institutions with more stability in funding by ensuring that tuition costs are covered through predictable future payments from graduates rather than relying solely on upfront fees or uncertain donations. Lastly, ISA programs also offer employers access to skilled workers who may have otherwise been unable to afford higher education without taking on significant loan debt.


  • Avoid high interest loans and long term debt
  • Flexible payment schedules based on income
  • More stable funding for educational institutions
  • Access to skilled employees without loan debt
  • Increased opportunity for students from lower-income backgrounds



Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) present a new and innovative way to pay for college, however there are some disadvantages related to their use. Below is a comparison of the costs associated with ISAs versus traditional loans.

ISA  Traditional Loan 
Upfront Cost None  Anywhere from 0-100%
Interest Rate Variable  Fixed rate based on creditworthiness
Payment Terms  Repayment % dependent on income post-graduation Scheduled payments over fixed term
Eligibility Criteria  Credit score not considered; must be employed after graduation or in deferral period Good/Excellent credit scores required 

While an ISA may seem more attractive than a loan due to lack of upfront cost and no requirement of good credit, they do have drawbacks. The terms of repayment vary depending on the amount earned post-graduation, payment amounts can increase if one’s salary increases significantly. Additionally, failure to make payments as agreed could result in legal action taken against the borrower which can further damage their financial standing. Therefore, it is important that individuals considering entering into an Income Sharing Agreement understand all aspects before making such an arrangement. It is also recommended that borrowers consult with professionals who specialize in these types of agreements prior to signing any documents.


Eligibility Requirements

Having discussed the potential disadvantages of an income sharing agreement (ISA) as a way to pay for college, this section will explore eligibility requirements. ISA agreements are not available to everyone and have specific criteria that must be met in order for students to qualify. Generally speaking, applicants need to have been accepted into an approved college or university program and meet any additional qualifications set by their school or institution. Financial need is also taken into consideration when evaluating applications so those with limited financial resources may find it easier to obtain approval than someone who has sufficient funds already at their disposal.

In addition to meeting these basic requirements, there are other conditions associated with ISAs such as having good credit scores and no prior bankruptcies on record. Furthermore, some institutions require students to agree to certain terms before signing the contract which can include repayment percentage caps and limits on how much they can borrow against future earnings. Overall, these eligibility requirements help ensure only qualified individuals receive access to these types of financing options while protecting both parties involved from unnecessary risk or harm.


Application Process

Income sharing agreements (ISAs) provide an alternative way to pay for college. An ISA is a contract between the student and their funding source, in which the former agrees to pay a percentage of his or her future income over a specific period of time. The application process for an ISA can be completed online or at most universities. To apply, students must submit documents such as transcripts, proof of enrollment status, financial aid award letter and other supporting documentation. After applying for an ISA, applicants are usually notified within two weeks about whether they have been approved or denied.

The terms of each agreement vary from company to company; however, some common factors that determine eligibility include credit score, current job market outlook and estimated future earning potential. Additionally, the amount borrowed may be subject to interest rates and fees imposed by the lender. Generally speaking, those with higher education levels and more secure jobs tend to receive better offers than those who do not meet these criteria. It is important to carefully review all terms before signing any contracts so that one understands what he or she is agreeing to when taking out an Income Sharing Agreement loan.


Alternatives To Isa

In addition to income sharing agreements, there are several other payment options for college tuition. Scholarships and grants offer students the opportunity to attend school at a discounted rate or even free of charge. Students may be able to receive scholarships from their chosen university, private organizations, employers, and various foundations. Federal student loans can also help cover costs associated with attending school.

These loans have generally favorable terms such as low interest rates and long repayment periods. Finally, some students opt to take out personal loans in order to pay for schooling. Personal loan interest rates tend to be higher than federal student loan rates but they give borrowers more flexibility when it comes to making payments. Ultimately, each situation is unique so students should carefully weigh all available options before settling on a particular form of financing college education.



Income-sharing agreements offer a viable alternative to traditional college financing. ISAs enable students to avoid the burden of student debt while still gaining access to higher education. However, it is important for potential recipients of an ISA to understand both the advantages and disadvantages before making such a commitment. Eligibility requirements must be met in order to apply, and although they are not as strict as other forms of financial aid, they should still be taken seriously. Alternatives exist that may better serve certain individuals or circumstances; therefore research into all options available is recommended prior to committing to any particular financing choice. An informed decision should be made regarding which option best suits one’s unique needs in order for a successful outcome.

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