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AutoGravity Targets Foreign Students

Irvine’s AutoGravity said it will work with Westbon Inc., which runs a lending platform for international students in the U.S.

“Westbon will benefit from AutoGravity’s appeal to digital-savvy customers seeking an exceptional car-buying experience,” AutoGravity co-founder Serge Vartanov said.

The company’s smart phone application connects car buyers with lenders and dealers. It said 1.5 million people have downloaded it and collectively requested more than $2 billion in financing.

Chicago-based Westbon targets international students, saying they are underserved because of a lack of credit history and social security number. Students must typically make a 30% down payment on a car and have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 for undergrads and 3.0 for grads.

U.S. universities enrolled 1.1 million foreign students in the 2016-17 school year, a 3.4% annual increase, according to the Institute of International Education. About half the students are from China or India.

The U.S. has by far the most international students of any country, more than double the second-highest pick, the United Kingdom. About 4.6 million students globally studied in foreign countries last year, the institute said.

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Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.
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