Pay it Forward

Pay just $200 upfront for college.
Pay back only when you earn more than
$40k a year.

How it works

no upfront tuition

Pay just a $200 enrollment fee. Then, pay $0 until you leave school and earn more than $40k / year.

affordable by design

After leaving school, make monthly payments based on a small percentage of your salary.

keep the upside

No matter how much you earn, you’ll never pay more than 1.3 times the amount you’ve received.

pay it forward

Payments you make go back to the program, supporting future generations of students.

Emergency fund & Stipends

Apply for immediate cash grants  in times of need. Receive a small stipend each term to invest in your learning.

Financial aid

Expert support to help you access financial aid — plus financing options you’ll only find at Rivet School.

Community of peers

Join a community of learners across California. Build relationships with other students in your neighborhood.

Tools for school

Access our comfortable coworking spaces for you to get work done. From laptops, to software, to tech support —we’ve got you.

Program benefits

Protection if times
get tough

With a loan, you pay back the same amount each month, no matter how much you earn. With Pay it Forward, if your income shrinks, so does your payment. And if you earn less than $40,000 / year, your payment is zero.

Fixed term &
no interest

You’ll never have to make more than 78 monthly payments (and you’ll likely make fewer). Because there’s no interest, you’ll never have a growing balance. And you’ll never make payments while in school.

No credit score requirements

We believe in Rivet School students, and through Pay it Forward, we’re betting on your future. Because of this, there’s no minimum credit score required to participate, and you don’t need a co-signer.

Pay it Forward FAQs


Why is Rivet School offering this program?

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Our mission is to help working adults earn a job-relevant, affordable college degree. While program tuition is low compared to other institutions, most students rely on some federal financial aid to afford access. And particularly for applicants and students who do not have access to federal financial aid, cost can be prohibitive.

We’ve launched the Pay it Forward Program to increase access to Rivet School for all students, and to provide an alternative to unsubsidized and private student loans for students who would otherwise rely on them.

How do I apply to participate in the Pay it Forward Program?

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Before beginning an application to Pay it Forward, you'll need to complete a brief survey to confirm your eligibility for the program. You can access that survey on our Pay it Forward application page here (just click the button that says "Get Started").

Am I eligible to participate in the Pay it Forward Program?

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You are eligible to participate in Pay it Forward if you:

  • Are accepted as a Rivet School student, and are enrolled in one of our partner university programs (currently, Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America program).
  • Are a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen with government-issued, non-expired documentation of permanent resident status, or are a DACA recipient (DREAMer) or a TPS designee.
  • Are able to meet the credit requirements of the program. (While there is no minimum credit score to participate in Pay it Forward, we do conduct a credit inquiry and require applicants to meet certain minimum qualifications.)
  • Are at least 18 years old.
  • Have already submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), received an award letter from the partner university, and have accepted all Pell Grant and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans to which you are eligible. (We do not expect you to accept Direct Unsubsidized loans.)
  • Have a minimum expected financial need of $2,000 per year.

Will all eligible applicants for Pay it Forward receive funding?

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As long as we have resources to support the program, all students who meet the eligibility criteria for the program will receive funding.

Why do you charge a $200 enrollment fee?

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We (Rivet School) incur a number of expenses in offering the Pay it Forward program. Because we aim to make the program self-sustaining (and available to future cohorts of students), we need to charge a small fee to cover a portion of our costs.

What is Stride Funding?

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Stride Funding is a Rivet School partner that helps us administer our Pay it Forward program. If you have any questions about the role that Stride Funding plays in our program, please feel free to reach out! We're happy to share more.

Program terms

What might my monthly payments look like under Pay it Forward?

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You can get a sense of your projected monthly and total payments (based on your funding amount) by following this link.

What happens if I don’t graduate on time or at all?

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Even if you don’t complete your intended degree with Rivet School, you are still responsible for meeting the terms of your Pay it Forward contract.

Is it possible to go into default with the Pay it Forward program?

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Yes. The Pay it Forward program isn’t a scholarship, and participation comes with a number of responsibilities. For instance, if you don’t submit required materials verifying your income, or if you miss payments, you may be charged late fees, or your account can become delinquent. You can avoid this through clear communication with the Rivet School team, and by following the rules of the program. Specific fees that you can be charged are:

  • Late payment fee
  • Underpayment fee
  • Stopped payment / returned payment fee

How does PIF compare to a traditional loan? Will I pay more or less than if I take out a Federal Direct Loan?

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Pay it Forward isn’t a traditional loan, and so it’s hard to make a direct comparison between them. Here are just some of the differences between Pay it Forward and a traditional loan:


Pay it Forward: Repayment is based on the amount of funding you receive and your future earnings.

Traditional loan: Repayment is based on the amount you borrow, the duration of the loan, and on the interest rate charged by the lender.

Downside protection:

Pay it Forward: You don’t repay when your income is below a certain threshold ($40,000 / year).

Traditional loan: None.

Your obligation ends when...:

Pay it Forward: You’ve made 78 payments, hit the payment cap, or hit the maximum program term of 10.5 years. After 10.5 years, you have no further repayment obligation, no matter how much you’ve paid.

Traditional loan: You’ve paid off your entire loan balance, plus interest.

Depending on a number of factors, you may pay more or less through Pay it Forward than you would with a subsidized federal loan. Whether you pay more or less will depend on a number of factors, including your future earnings and whether you choose to prepay your Pay it Forward obligation.

One last note: You should also know that if you opt to receive federal student loans, you may also be eligible to participate in a variety of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans offered by the federal government. Like with Pay it Forward, through income-driven repayment plans, instead of repaying a fixed monthly amount, you make payments based on a percentage of the income you earn.

Income-driven repayment plans offer a number of benefits, but not all borrowers are eligible for all plans. If you’d like to learn more about IDR plans, please reach out to the Rivet School team and we can connect you with a financial aid expert who can help.

What are the full terms of this program?

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  • Enrollment fee: To receive funding through Pay it Forward, you'll first need to pay an enrollment fee of $200.
  • Funding amounts: The minimum amount of funding you can receive through Pay it Forward is $2,000. (You can’t receive less than $2,000 per year, but it’s fine if you only need $2,000 total.) The maximum amount you can receive (over multiple years) is $30,000.
  • Repayment: The amount you’ll repay is based on how much you borrowed and on your future income. For each $1,000 of funding you receive, you’ll pay back 0.5% of your annual income (for the 78-month term). In other words, if you receive $10,000 in funding, you'll pay back 5% of your gross annual income. Once you've paid back 1.3x the amount you've borrowed ("the cap"), you're not responsible for further payments, even if you haven't made 78 months of payments.
  • Income threshold: You’ll be required to make payments only in years where you earn more than $40,000. If you make less than the Income Threshold for a given year, you won’t have to pay anything.
  • Grace period and hardship forbearance: When you earn your BA, you’ll have a 6-month grace period before you’re required to start making payments. (If you choose to withdraw from Rivet School before graduating, you won't be able to access this grace period.) You can also request to defer payments during a period of financial difficulty (even if you’re earning more than the $40,000 income threshold). You can’t take more than three months of forbearance in a row at any given point. Forbearance does not count toward your payment obligation. For instance, if you request and receive three months of forbearance, these three months will be added to your repayment term.
  • Prepayment and prepayment discount: At any time, you can “prepay” your Pay it Forward obligation. Through prepayment, you may be able to pay back significantly less than what you would repay otherwise. The repayment schedule reduces the maximum payment cap as follows:
    - Within 6 months of graduation: Payment amount of 1.1 times the funding you've received (for example, if you finance $10,000 and pay $11,000 within 6 months of graduating, your payments are complete)
    - Between 7 - 42 months of graduation: Payment amount of 1.2 times the funding you've received
    - Between 43 - 60 months of graduation: Payment amount of 1.25 times the funding you've received

How does the Pay it Forward Program work?

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  • Apply: To begin, visit and click "Get started" to submit a survey that assesses your eligibility for the program. The Rivet School team will review your submission to determine whether you're eligible to apply. Eligible students will receive a link to the full application. After completing the full Pay it Forward application, you'll be notified as to whether you've met the criteria for the program. If you're selected, you'll be able to pay your $200 enrollment fee, confirm your desired funding amount, and then sign your Pay it Forward contract.
  • Receive funding: Once you've signed your Pay it Forward contract, Rivet School will directly transfer funding to your student account. Rivet School will disburse Pay it Forward funding one term at a time (disbursing as much approved funding as is needed to cover a student’s outstanding balance). For instance, if you’ve applied for $4,000 in Pay it Forward funding for a given year, and you have an outstanding balance (after Pell Grant) of $1,500 for your first term, we’ll disburse $1,500 to your student account (reserving the rest for subsequent terms).
  • Study (without stressing): While you’re in school, you won’t need to make any payments or pay any fees. Once you graduate with your BA, you’ll have a 6-month grace period before you have to begin making payments. (Again, you’ll only make payments if and when you’re earning more than $40,000 per year.)
  • Repayment: Following your 6-month grace period, you’ll begin making monthly payments back to the Pay it Forward program. Your payment amount will vary based on how much funding you’ve received, and on your income. (See more in “What are the terms of the program?” below.) You’ll make payments for 78 months, or until you’ve hit the “repayment cap” (or, in other words, paid back 1.3 times the amount of funding you received). You can also prepay or accelerate your payment at any time.


Start your career, then pay for college.

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