In December 2020, Upstart Network (“Upstart”), the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (“LDF”), and the Student Borrower Protection Center (“SBPC”) entered into an agreement to appoint Relman Colfax to serve as an independent fair lending Monitor to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the fair lending implications of Upstart’s lending platform, and to issue a series of periodic reports on its findings and recommendations. Those reports are published below, upon release.
Upstart is a lending platform that relies on Machine Learning-based Artificial Intelligence (“ML” and “AI”) models and non-traditional applicant data—including data related to borrowers’ higher education—to underwrite and price consumer loans. LDF and the SBPC raised concerns with Upstart that the use of educational criteria can lead to discriminatory lending outcomes, particularly for communities of color. Against this background, Upstart, LDF, and the SBPC agreed to this Monitorship. The first Monitor Report, published in April 2021, provides context for the Monitorship, including legal and historical background regarding lending disparities and fair lending testing, a summary of Upstart’s lending program and model, and a description of studies and communications related to Upstart from the SBPC, LDF, and members of Congress. Future periodic reports will address fair lending tests conducted and recommendations specific to Upstart’s model.