Robert Nix: USA Funds

United Student Aid Funds or USA funds, currently known as the Strada Education Network, is a nonprofit corporation which assists students into post-secondary education by providing financial support and other help.

The Challenge

On July 1, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education took over 100 percent of the federally guaranteed student loan market. Private sector lenders of student loans could continue to service and collect existing loans, but could not issue any new, federally guaranteed student loans. USA Funds, one of the largest private-sector lenders of student loans, had more than $1 billion in loans and a business model that was now regulated out of existence. The company had to redesign its business model and redeploy more than $1 billion in funds into a new business model.

My Role

Managing Director

My area of focus within DXC's Consulting Services Group was to develop the overall strategy for a new business model and then work with the client’s team to create a tactical roadmap. I worked closely with the client to have them identify core competencies and areas of expertise other than lending. Then, by leading the client through a series of strategic workshops, I had them create the change they would live in with their new business model. By utilizing Lean Six Sigma Black Belt skills, I was able to help the client create practical tactics that utilized best practices during implementation and would allow for scalable growth. 

The Work
  • Utilizing surveys (customer and internal) and focused workshops, we identified the client had expertise in understanding the needs of students during their high school and college careers. 
  • The client had developed a solid reputation as being a value-add lender, guiding students through the decision-making process around college. A strategy was then developed to redeploy the $1 billion+ funds in an acquisition spree. 
  • An acquisition strategy and methodology were put together for the client. The acquisition targets were online, social media-based platforms that students visited to seek advice and assistance in their pre-college and college journey. 
  • Various tactics were created to streamline and monetize acquired properties.
  • Streamlined processes were created and new technology was acquired to support the scalable growth of the new business strategy.

The Outcome

Between 2010 and 2016, USA Funds was able to convert cash from maturing loans into newly acquired online college prep sites. The organization had over 100 acquisitions of varying sizes and strategically aligned these sites to allow them to become the preeminent provider of college and college prep advice. They were able to utilize their extensive network and connections with five thousand colleges in the U.S. to further strengthen their online platform. In addition, they developed a strategy for monetizing the acquired properties. 

Overall, the strategies and tactics we created and deployed for the new business model worked very well to position USA Funds to both uphold their mission statement of assisting students while maintaining sustainable profitability.

Mergers and Acquisitions Process

As Charles Darwin said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ New regulations made our client’s 45-year-old business model obsolete overnight. We needed to work quickly and decisively to show how they could change and create a new business model that well-positioned them for the future.

––Robert Nix, Managing Director