August 04, 2023

$300 loans provide lifelines for students

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rep rife crosswalk 550pxAny UAB student can apply for a microloan. “We try very hard to make it as quick and painless as possible,” said Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., the creator of the program.Microloans from UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education, or RIFE, help any Blazer student fix a tire, make rent or meet another emergency — with money available in as little as 24 hours and no interest charged if paid back in 90 days.

Escaping the spiral: Something as small as a flat tire can quickly spiral into an exit from school, said Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., the institute’s director, creator of the program and chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance at the Collat School of Business. “Your car breaks down on the way to school, so you miss class. You can’t get to work, so you miss shifts and suddenly you can’t pay rent. It all adds up. We thought, ‘If we could find a way to help a student get that tire, it would prevent all these other things.’”

Yates talked with Eric Jack, Ph.D., who was the dean of the business school at the time, and he suggested a source of funds: a $25,000 pot of money originally created to aid students after the deadly 2011 tornadoes. Yates’ students helped create the microloan program’s rules:

  • get the money to those who need it most,
  • maintain a reserve so emergency needs can always be met, and
  • have flexibility to make non-emergency loans.

Priority goes to true emergencies, including:

  • loss of income
  • transportation issues
  • housing issues or difficult living situations
  • medical expenses

“It is very helpful for students who have a gap between the time the semester starts and when their financial aid arrives,” Yates said. “By far, the majority of the loans are repaid within 90 days, and very few students have paid interest. This is not a gotcha.” (The interest rate is 6 percent, starting on day 91.) In fact, the goal is to offer an alternative to payday loans, title loans and pawn shops.

Open to all students: Any UAB student can apply for a microloan if they meet the criteria below, Yates said: “We try very hard to make it as quick and painless as possible.”

Students must meet the following criteria to be considered for a microloan:

  • full-time UAB student enrolled in the current semester
  • not on academic probation
  • no academic holds on student account
  • must not currently have a microloan

For more details on microloans, email