Test Prep Company Aims to Tackle Student Loan Debt – Starting With Law Students

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

It’s not unusual for graduate and professional students to leave school with upwards of $100,000 in student loan debt, and many – particularly law school graduates – end up tacking on thousands more in debt to pay for test preparation courses and licensing exams. But one new test prep company has set out with a social mission both to provide affordable prep materials and donate a significant portion of its profits to combating student debt.

Esqyr, a test prep company launched earlier this month, is first setting its sights on producing affordable materials for the bar exam, according to co-founder Chris Henjum. The cost of bar exam preparation materials can range from $600 to as much as $4,000, Henjum says.

“I graduated with over $250,000 in law school debt, and after graduation I was faced with an over $3,000 bill to study for the bar exam,” Henjum says. “I thought that was pretty expensive, and I didn’t think that was fair, to be honest.”

While law school graduates preparing for the bar exam are not necessarily limited in their choice of study materials and prep courses, most “think they should” purchase these expensive materials, Henjum says.

To that end, Esqyr will produce bar exam study tools – built from licensed questions used on the exam – that can be purchased for under $200. On top of that, the company is structured as a public benefit corporation and is legally obligated to serve students, which it will do by donating 20 percent of its profits to organizations and schools to reduce student loan debt.

“Rather than contribute to debt like other test prep companies, we’re helping to shrink it,” Henjum says.

Eventually, Henjum says he hopes to expand the scope of the company to include affordable test prep materials for other occupations, noting that the percentage of fields that require licensing has increased by about 600 percent since the 1950s.

Additionally, as schools face increased scrutiny on student outcomes – including student loan debt – some may look to invest in test prep materials to help their students study for their exams and be more prepared after graduation, Henjum says. A portion of Esqyr’s donations may include free accounts for institutions that struggle with student debt.

“We’re also hoping to target schools that are facing increasing pressure to have students do well and have less debt,” Henjum says.


Publication Date: 8/19/2016

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