Pietro Rea

Meadow raises a $3.5M seed round

February 03, 2023

I’m very excited to announce that Meadow has raised a $3.5M seed round to build a modern student financial services platform for universities. Here’s our press release, and here’s the reporting from Business Insider (paywalled) that came out on Tuesday.

I haven’t written about Meadow on here before, so allow me to formally introduce it. Meadow is an early-stage startup whose mission is to empower students financially and to promote economic mobility through higher education.

In the U.S, what students end up paying for college is not the “sticker price”, but rather an amount discounted by grants, scholarships and other forms of aid. Figuring out what you actually need to pay to attend college is opaque and confusing, complicating planning and decision-making for students and their families. Many students don’t even try to engage with this system, assuming college is out of reach for them.

So in 2008, Congress mandated that every school must have a “net price calculator” on their website, allowing interested students to get a personalized cost estimate after providing a few pieces of data about themselves. This is where Meadow comes in. Taking advantage of some legislative headwinds in 2021, we introduced our own take on the net price calculator early last year, transforming what used to be merely a compliance requirement into a tool that improves enrollment for schools and elevates financial clarity for students.

We now have over 10 schools live on our net price calculator product and many more in our pipeline. Some recent launches include University of Texas at Austin, Nevada State College and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

But the crisis in higher education is not just about lack of transparency. Once you know what you need to pay, actually paying for college has other major roadblocks. Some of it is timing and communications. Students receive obtuse billing statements in the mail, often without enough advance notice to make a financial plan. And once they are ready to pay, making the payment is also difficult. If there is a digital way to pay, the system is often decades old and difficult to use. Otherwise, they have to mail checks, call the student accounts office, or go in person.

All this friction might not sound like a big deal, but it’s death by a thousand cuts. One of our school partners tells us that they lose roughly half of their freshman class the following year every year. They just don’t come back.

This is the problem Meadow’s second product, Meadow Pay, is going to solve and the reason why we raised the seed round. Meadow Pay is designed to be the modern payments and engagement platform for higher ed students. It’s the missing piece between students and universities.

I joined Meadow back in June of 2022 as Co-Founder & Head of Engineering. The past 8 months have been a whirlwind of building, hiring, planning and pitching. I feel like I’ve been wearing every possible hat that could exist in an engineering org, but luckily we’re up to four engineers now.

Here’s a picture of us at our last NYC on-site:

Pietro Rea
Written by Pietro Rea, a software engineer, engineering manager and author from northern Virginia.