As Damian walked around the immaculately manicured Boston University campus with his 11th grade class, his excitement only grew as they visited the freshman dorms at Danielsen Hall. He could easily picture himself walking from the cafeteria to the engineering building for his first computer science class. While the school seemed to be the perfect fit, Damian kept reminding himself not to get his hopes up — although he had the grades to get in, he and his family had no idea how to pay for college.
Damian’s story isn’t the first I’ve come by. In fact, he’s among millions of students each year who are struggling to bridge the financial gap to go to college — a commonality that has resulted in there being 1.6T in student debt in the US today. For this reason and many others, free access to education should be a human right that every aspiring student deserves.
But since it isn’t, students must take on tens of thousands of dollars in loans (an option that isn’t even available to everyone). As a result, students graduate saddled with debt that deteriorates — and in some cases eliminates all together — the potential and opportunity that a higher education promised them in the first place.
It pains me to say that we live in a society where free access to higher education is unlikely to become a reality any time soon, and I refuse to stand idle until it does.
This is why I started Mos.
At Mos, while we can’t single handedly make education free, we can help students and their families easily access the $135B available each year in financial aid — billions of which go unused due to the burden of navigating the unnecessarily complicated and opaque process (one that historically has left students either completely unaware of the 500+ aid programs out there, or feeling like they’re not eligible for financial aid in the first place).
A year in, we’ve helped students of all backgrounds qualify for over $200M in government funding by serving as their financial aid advisor. Through our tech-enabled platform, we’ve made it possible that with a few questions and matter of minutes, students gain access to every single state and federal aid program they’re eligible for — maximizing their grants so they can go to school without taking on copious amounts of crushing debt.
Today, especially in the midst of COVID-19, I can’t think of a more important right to fight for. It’s this generation of students who will propel us forward and lift us out of what will undoubtedly be an economically challenging time. We simply can’t inundate them with more debt in the process.
Yes, this is ambitious, and some will even think naive, but know that this is not my first time fighting for human rights. Growing up under a dictatorship in Tunisia, I had to advocate for my rights and the rights of others from a young age, even when it came at the cost of my exile at age 17. Years later, on the heels of the Arab Spring, I returned home and founded Al Bawsala,an NGO that fought to ensure my country’s new constitution considered education and access to information a human right. Today, it’s still one of the most respected human rights NGOs in the region.
Now at Mos, once again, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer in this fight alone — I’m joined by a growing, diverse team of talented colleagues, and an invaluable group of investors who have contributed $13 million in series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Zoom founder Eric Yuan, social change organization Emerson Collective, emerging science fund Lux Capital, and many others.
It’s with this support that Mos was able to get Damian the $43,000 he needed to go to college. He, along with many other students continue to drive and inspire us — if they refuse to settle for the status quo then we shouldn’t either. With each opportunity to help we’re reminded that bigger dreams don’t always have to come with a bigger price tag.
We’re just getting started on this amazing journey and we’d love for you to join us.