WEST LAFAYETTE - The Purdue Research Foundation says a record number of Purdue University students are taking advantage of the Back a Boiler income share agreement program. The program is an alternative way to pay for college and forego relying on Federal Parent PLUS and private student loans.

The foundation says the number of student contracts for the current semester is up over 25 percent from the same time last year, with 56 percent of those students being first-time participants.

"I think the participation growth can be attributed to that fact. We want to be sure that it's easy to understand and that students are making an informed choice that best suits their lifestyle and financial needs," said Mary-Claire Cartwright, Back a Boiler program manager.

In using the equity-based option, a student agrees to pay to the foundation a certain percentage of their post-graduation income. Unlike a loan, there is no principal balance or interest, so its payments adjust with the student’s income over the life of the contract.

While the ISA program has only been in existence at Purdue since the 2016-17 academic year, the foundation says it expects the payback period to be less than 10 years. The foundation says payments do not begin until the student is employed and earns a defined minimum annual salary above $20,000. 

"We strive to be extremely transparent and consumer protection-friendly," said Cartwright.

Since its inception, the fund has invested $13.8 million in Purdue students.