With the average class of 2015 graduate exiting school with over $35,000 in student-loan debt and the tricky web of required courses, degree audits and general education classes, the dream of higher education can feel a bit more like a nightmare.
Quottly, a local tech startup founded by UF alums James Gibson and Melissa Guzy, is on track to tackle these problems with one simple web application.
Quottly matches college students with the best-fit classes, not just at their specific university, but across all universities. It finds classes at community colleges that match students’ specific education objectives, scheduling preferences and learning style. The goal is to save students at least 50 percent off the cost of each class, which in turn, can save them upwards of 30 percent on the cost of their entire degree.
Gibson, who walked across the UF graduation stage a mere three months ago, explained it best as a Kayak or Expedia for classes. Instead of searching for a 3-star hotel in downtown Tampa, users can search for an online class that runs over summer and has testing locations in their hometown.
“There is a lot of inefficiency and students aren’t given enough choice. So, let’s say I’m studying marketing at the University of Florida and I have to take some class, Intro to Marketing 101, or something. The best teacher that teaches that class in the U.S. is probably not at UF,” said Gibson. “Why should I take this subpar class at UF if the very best teacher is in Colorado and teaches online anyway? So, we think unbundling the education process is a huge win for students.”
After applying to expensive out-of-state universities, Gibson made the decision to come to UF to save money. While at school, he met Guzy and they explored the idea of how to help students save money on college, an issue he dealt with firsthand.
“I really do believe in the mission. My grandfather was a professor at UF. My entire family went to college. I’m like a sixth generation college student,” said Gibson. “So, the idea that I can get up in the morning and help make this process better that my family has been a part of for so long is really exciting.”
Like Gibson, Guzy’s drive for Quottly came from seeing the expense of higher education firsthand with her stepdaughter. As a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist with over 15 years of experience in tech and the current founder of the first women-led venture capital firm in Asia, Guzy aims to avoid a band-aid solution for the student debt crisis.
“People were focused on companies dealing with student debt once you’ve already incurred it, but I thought there had to be a better way to deal with student debt before it actually happened,” said Guzy.
Whether Quottly will be embraced by universities as a godsend to clean up the inefficient registration process or labeled as a threat to the traditional procedures remains to be seen, but Gibson and Guzy are focused on the students.
Their advice to incoming college students is simple:
“Make the most of it. It’s expensive.”