Sam Hollander is solving a $1.76 trillion problem with an innovative solution to student debt

portrait of sam

Spotlight: Sam Hollander  

The typical college student will take out about 29,000 dollars in student debt and spend 21 years paying it off.  Nearly 43 million students each year will sign up to spend years of their life paying off extraordinary debt that compounds over time.  The total amount of student debt in this country exceeds all other student debt.

Beyond the cliché ways to avoid student debt, like working hard, or choosing inexpensive schools, there aren’t many other options. Sam Hollander ’22, studying Finance in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and Advertising in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is one of the first to engineer viable alternatives to traditional student debt.

 Hollander is the founder and CEO of FSCL, financial services for college lending, a business that innovates financing higher education.  Like many students, Hollander witnessed firsthand a discomforting truth: that aside from the support of a wealthy family, the only way to pay for education is to sign yourself‑ at an age where you have hardly begun to grasp the workings of finance‑ into crippling years of debt through federal student loans.  “The federal government is capitalizing on our students because they realize there are few other options. We can see how the system is failing us now,” Hollander said as he described the current model.

FSCL takes a more individualized approach to helping students pay for college through a model of income share financing. Instead of a loan which price increases every year with compounded interest, the student repays for their college education by paying FSCL a small percentage of their income each year. This model benefits both parties because FSCL makes more money when students have their most successful and high-paying career. FSCL encourages students towards their success through practical career building; they offer professional mentoring, resume-building, and understanding of lifelong financial investments such as mortgages.

“The social responsibility aspect of what we’re doing is really they ‘why’ behind our business,” Hollander spoke of his company’s model of individualized connection, “we are building relationships with our customers rather than transaction-based lending.”

FSCL has made significant progress towards merging alternative finance and social impact, to build the solution to their customer’s problem; it’s no surprise that FSCL is well on its way towards success. Just this past month, FSCL was a winner at Panasci Business Plan Competition, due to Hollander’s relentless drive towards success and tireless personal work.

Entrepreneurship has long been a key pursuit of Hollander’s. He started his first business at only fifteen, when he began a small videography business in his hometown of Pleasantville, NY, that grew into shooting for local businesses and community events. For him, entrepreneurship is a fusion of the fearless pursuit of happiness and the utilization of privilege to positively impact the world.

Tirelessly working on his business and realizing his innovative dreams is something that simply makes Hollander happy. And while personal fulfillment is in itself a worthy goal, he has also realized that his keen talents give him power to impact others positively, “There are bigger aspirations and that is making a difference in other people’s lives.

This year, Hollander hopes to make a positive impact on others through his role as a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor at the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars at Syracuse University. For him, the LaunchPad is the most valuable resource that propelled him towards success and sustained growth, and he hopes to give back to other young entrepreneurs the same crucial mentorship he has found in this community of skilled innovators.

Hollander is pouring his personal strengths and passion into building a business to help others. He is maximizing the resources available to him to bring a socially responsible solution to a real-world problem. The combination of passion and talent is a powerful thing.  When that combination is focused towards societal benefit, its power creates groundbreaking solutions towards shared prosperity.

Story by Claire Howard ’22, LaunchPad Global Fellow