Gift of College

Gift of College

Growth Stage

Let's end student loan debt

Let's end student loan debt


Raised to Date: Raised: $92,358

Total Commitments ($USD)



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Security Type

Equity - Common



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RegCF    Open SEC Filing

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Year Founded



Education, Training, & Coaching

Tech Sector


Distribution Model




Capital Intensity



Calabasas, California

Business Type


Gift of College, with a pre-money valuation of $24 million, is raising funds on StartEngine. It is a crowdfunding platform that streamlines the student loan process for students and allows friends, family, and employers to contribute towards college savings and student loan accounts. The suite of Gift of College connects gift-givers and receivers through gift cards and an at-work solution. Wayne Weber founded Gift of College in 2007. The current crowdfunding round has a minimum target of $10,000 and a maximum target of $1,070,000, and the funds will be used to expand the employer network and bolster the retail offerings. Gift of College has already helped eliminate $15 million in student loan debt and boosted college savings account balances by $10 million.

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Financials as of: 10/18/2020
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Student loan debt is widely regarded as one of the most pressing financial challenges of modern times. In the United States, 44.7 million people collectively owe almost $1.6 trillion in student loans. Student loan debt is the second-largest consumer debt category (behind only mortgage debt). The average amount of student loan debt is $32,731 per person — an amount that takes some individuals decades to repay. 

The amount owed in student loans has skyrocketed in recent decades alongside the cost of higher education. The average cost of a year of undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board was roughly $18,000 at public institutions and $46,000 at private institutions for the 2017-2018 academic year. That’s a total of $72,000-$184,000 in college costs for a four-year degree. Very few Americans can afford to pay those sums out of pocket, so long-term college savings is often the only way to escape student loans. 

Saving for college is on parents’ minds, but they’re struggling to hit appropriate savings goals. Nearly three-quarters of all parents plan to cover their child’s cost of tuition in full, but they’re on track to save only 29% of the cost by the time their child turns 18. College savings plans (also known as 529 plans) could help. These savings programs are tax-advantaged and can help parents save for college more quickly. Unfortunately, only 41 percent of parents are using 529 plans. 

Gift of College hopes to ameliorate the student loan debt crisis by encouraging college savings and helping graduates pay off their loans. The company offers several routes for savings or repayment. Loved ones can purchase gift cards and donate via crowdfunding campaigns to contribute to families’ 529 plans or individuals’ student loan accounts. They can also contribute rewards from shopping to the same accounts. Gift of College also works with employers to boost savings — they can implement payroll deduction and employer match plans to help their employees save for college. 

Gift of College’s current StartEngine raise has been rated a Neutral Deal by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Next Section: Price


Gift of College is raising at a $24 million pre-money valuation with no discount. This price is extremely high given the company’s current revenue (just under $1.2 million last year). Additionally, the company’s revenue growth is slow and unlikely to grow meaningfully in years to come. Therefore, Gift of College’s price rating is very low. 

Next Section: Market


Gift of College is attacking multiple sides of the student debt crisis, so it is addressing a couple of distinct markets. The company’s flagship gift card and crowdfunding product is targeted at consumers looking to contribute to their loved ones’ college savings (instead of giving yet another Amazon gift card). This market is theoretically very large. Virtually every American likely knows a young person who is planning to go to college. However, Gift of College’s performance in the market over the last four years tells us that the company’s obtainable market is significantly smaller. With only moderate revenue generated from gift cards present in major nationwide retailers, there is some doubt as to whether college savings gift cards are a desirable option for the everyday consumer. 

Gift of College also sells to the corporate market via its employer benefits program offering payroll deductions and matching for 529 savings plans. Once again, this market theoretically encompasses virtually every business in the United States. However, Gift of College’s reasonably obtainable market is much smaller, including only those employers who offer robust benefits plans and who do not already use a separate tool for payroll deductions into savings accounts (many existing tools seem to provide this functionality). 

The student loan market is quite large in the U.S. However, the intersection of student loan debt with the gift card market and with employer benefits creates a much smaller obtainable market for Gift of College. Therefore, the company’s market score is relatively low. 

Next Section: Team


Gift of College was founded by CEO Wayne Weber in 2008. Prior to founding Gift of College, Weber served in various account executive roles within the higher education software market. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University. 

Gift of College’s COO, Patricia Roberts, has over 20 years of experience as a financial attorney and executive, with particular exposure to college savings and 529 plans. Roberts previously served as an Associate General Counsel for Citi and a Vice President within the Education, Retirement, and Health Savings programs at Merrill Lynch. She is the author of Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training, a recently-published manual on college savings. Roberts holds a bachelor’s from Duquesne University and a JD from Brooklyn Law School. 

Dr. Kristine Sickels is Gift of College’s CMO, though she appears to work part-time among other pursuits. Sickels holds a bachelor’s, MBA, and PhD in marketing and business. She served in marketing roles (including senior executive posts) at Newell Brands for almost 20 years. She now runs her own marketing consultancy and church-focused social impact startup in addition to Gift of College. 

Rob Creaser, Gift of College’s Chief Compliance Officer, is an experienced compliance professional with over 20 years of financial experience and eight securities licenses. Similarly to Dr. Sickels, Creaser appears to work part-time for Gift of College while serving primarily as the COO of StartEngine Primary, a wholly-owned subsidiary of StartEngine Crowdfunding LLC. 

These executives — and additional team members with more credentials in higher education, business, and finance — are deeply experienced in college savings and financial investments. Therefore, Gift of College’s team score is relatively high. 

Next Section: Differentiators


Gift of College has few direct competitors that cover the same breadth of college savings products. On the gift card and crowdfunding side, a few small financial institutions and 529 plan administrators themselves (state governments) offer the ability to contribute to loved ones’ 529 plans. However, Gift of College seems to be the most everyday-consumer-oriented, with gift cards available in major retailers nationwide. 

On the B2B side, Gift of College faces more competition from existing employee payroll and benefits tools, many of which seem to already offer the capability of payroll deductions and matching for 529 plans. Moreover, Gift of College is threatened by up-and-coming employee benefits startups that are modernizing how workplaces interact with their employees’ lives. These slick B2B SaaS tech companies have significantly more software capability than Gift of College currently seems to have and could offer 529 services alongside a fuller suite of benefits products. 

Netting out the states of these two sides of the business, Gift of College is relatively differentiated among an ambiguous set of competitors. Therefore, the company’s differentiation score is one of its highest.

Next Section: Performance


Gift of College is proud to have assisted 20,000 users save over $10 million for college and pay down over $15 million in student loans. These impact figures are more impressive than the company’s actual business performance metrics, though the latter set are relatively impressive, too. Gift of College generated just under $1.2 million in revenue last year and is firmly profitable with a net income of $71,554. Note, though, that revenue growth seems to be slow. The company generated $1.05 million in revenue in 2018, for just $150,000 in revenue growth between the two years. The company has been in business for almost 12 years, which further throws into question its rate of year-over-year growth. 

Overall, Gift of College’s performance metrics are solid. Just over $1 million in revenue is meaningful and significantly higher than many startups seeking crowdfunding. While there are questions as to Gift of College’s revenue growth rate, the company’s performance score is still one of its highest. 

Next Section: Other

Bearish Outlook

Gift of College was founded in 2008 and has made meaningful contributions to saving for college and paying down debt since then. However, the concept of gift cards for college savings (or student debt reduction) does not seem to be taking off in the market. Intuitively, the concept is somewhat unusual: while contributing $25 or $50 to a loved one’s college savings plan is a kind and productive gesture, families will not be able to pay for college off of a few $25 gift cards alone. Gift of College’s B2B offering — encouraging employers to help employees save for college — seems more effective. However, many benefits systems seem to already offer these capabilities, and it is unclear exactly what value Gift of College adds to the equation. 

Prospective investors should also note that Gift of College is operating in a space that faces significant regulatory risk. We are on the cusp of a major national election which could dramatically shift the priorities of the federal administration. The student debt crisis is a major talking point for the Democratic party. There is a chance that a significant portion of student debt is forgiven in coming years, or that certain tiers of college become free for families. These regulatory changes pose a major risk to Gift of College’s future growth. 

Based on these fundamental questions about the company’s product offerings, regulatory risk, and slow revenue growth over the last two years, it could be assumed that Gift of College is a healthy and profitable small business that is destined to generate a million or two in revenue each year while contributing productively to the student loan crisis (at least while it still exists). This business may not be the best fit for investors seeking a significant return. 

Next Section: Bullish Outlook

Bullish Outlook

The student loan crisis is undoubtedly one of the most significant challenges facing the millennial generation (and younger), and saving for college is a very stressful part of raising a child in the twenty-first century. The market is hungry for adequate solutions to these problems, and Gift of College may have laid the foundation to become a leader in college savings and debt repayment. The company’s profitability is also an asset as Gift of College ponders future opportunities. Cash on hand would allow Gift of College to double down on investment in a software platform for employers or conduct major marketing campaigns to boost performance of its retail product. 

The company’s team is undoubtedly qualified in the higher education and finance space. Their expertise may carry the company through this period of uncertain product efficacy and limited revenue growth into a solution that more adequately meets market need. Revenue of $1.2 million is not a small amount. Gift of College has demonstrated some success thus far and seems to have the potential to expand upon it. 

Next Section: Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Gift of College is focused on combating the student debt crisis by helping families save for college and individuals pay down their student loan balances. The company has generated more than $1 million in revenue for at least two years and is running profitably. Those healthy financial metrics combined with a deeply-experienced team are positive signals for the future. 

On the other hand, Gift of College has grown slowly over its 12 years in existence, and there are some questions as to whether the company’s product offerings truly resonate within either the consumer or B2B markets. The company’s prospects may also be altered by changes in federal policy on student loans or college cost. Therefore, Gift of College has been rated a Neutral Deal.

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to

Analysis written by Katy Dolan. 

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Gift of College on StartEngine
Platform: StartEngine
Security Type: Equity - Common
Valuation: $24,000,000
Price per Share: $5.00

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