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peerTransfer: Helping International Students MakeTuition Payments

Instead of international students using a typical wire transfer to pay tuition in the United States, some are using the company peerTransfer.

peerTransfer was started by Iker Marcaide, a former international student from Europe. He faced the uncertainty of using a wire transfer to pay his tuition at an American university. And he was used to paying the high fees banks charged for those wire transfers, plus the money he lost in the currency exchange.

Many of us have been through this stressful time. Did my money make it? You go to check with the university. They have money, but they have no idea if it’s your money. Or the bank tells you the money arrived, but the university says they don’t have it.

To avoid the stress and the uncertainty, peerTransfer was created to work directly with universities in the United States. It’s simple: students give the money to peerTransfer, the company knows exactly what the currency exchange should be, charges you less fees than the bank, and then safely delivers the money to your university in the United States within an average of three and a half days.

We spoke with Mike Massaro, one of the senior Vice Presidents who oversees business development of peerTransfer.

“This is a school approved payment,” Massaro said. “We work directly with universities to have them offer peerTransfer as a way for payment. Iker knew the stress first hand, he wanted to help international students and families.”

Massaro explained the company gets a good wholesale foreign exchange rate.

“On average, students pay three to six percent in fees on top of the tuition payment. We’re half that.”
peerTranser is free to use for both the universities and the students. The company makes profit from the currency exchange.

We contacted a couple of the universities and colleges currently listing peerTransfer as a method of payment for international students. We heard back from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

“We started using peerTransfer in spring 2012 and we haven’t heard of any problems,” Debra Johnson, Student Account Manager and Analyst at Mount Holyoke College said. “We encourage our students to use peerTransfer, it’s easier for us to log in and see if there are any issues and it keeps us in the loop. Plus, peerTransfer collects important information we typically don’t get with a wire transfer, such as the student’s name. For students it’s easier because they get the support from peerTransfer and it costs less. [peerTransfer] knows how much to pay in the student’s currency so we get what we need in U.S. dollars.”

Massaro said there are about 260 universities and colleges in the United States that offer peerTransfer to international students as a method of making payments. The company has also expanded to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

If your university doesn’t offer peerTransfer, you may contact the company on Facebook or on its website.
To learn more and see if you’re university uses peerTransfer, visit www.peertransfer.com

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