Owing money to anyone or any entity (the mob, a bookie, a student loan lender) never feels good. It hangs over one’s head and can even physically feel like a burden.
More than 37 million Americans have student loan debt. According to the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that puts total student loan debt in the United States above $1 trillion.
In the current education system, young Americans are encouraged to pursue higher education, but little thought has been given to the back end of the equation. Typically higher education has been equated with higher pay. But in the current economy, many college graduates are finding themselves unemployed or underemployed.
Not to leave out those who carry student loans far into their professional careers. Many lawyers, doctors, business executives, and acdemics still carry student debt long after they’ve established their careers.
CEO Brendon McQueen graduated from Columbia University and was stunned to find a sclerotic job market.
“I graduated in 2009 at the height of the recession, and I had 12 loans from 6 servicers, and over a $120,000 in debt,” he said. “I saw the huge problem that I was having. I would spend hours literally on the phone, trying to just figure out who I owed, how much I owed, and if I had any options.”
As a result, he created a solution for his own struggle.
The tools Tuition.io offers include:
- A snapshot of how much you are paying each month
- How to contact each lender
- How much you owe each lender
- How much interest you will pay over time
- Charts and graphs that show your repayment history, as well as projections
- Custom Advice Engine. Recommends what to do with each loan, depending on what your current situation might be (i.e. The site asks: Are you looking for the lowest possible payment each month? Do you want the lowest possibly interest rate? How much money can you afford to spend each month?)
- Pre-filled out forms. The site will pre-fill PDFs for each of your loan options, so all you have to do is print, sign, and send.
A key feature that cuts out a great deal of confusion: The platform will tell you what options each loan is eligible for. For instance, you can find out whether a loan qualifies for federal consolidation, private consolidation, or possibly income-based repayment.
Rather than having to dig for this information yourself or face endless phone calls with various schools and lenders, you can see all your available options (that will likely save you money or at least time) in one place.
The site launched in private beta in October 2011. Their new platform debuts this August, including a mobile version for easy access on your phone.
McQueen commented on the early stats he’s seen, making it clear that more educated people could use a tool like this.
“Twenty-five percent of our sign-ups aren’t even sure how many loans they have. That’s insane on its own,” he said. “But then you take that paired with the fact that 50% of recent college grads are underemployed, and you also think that 66% of undergrads have student loans. Then you imagine that 38% of people who have them aren’t paying them down.”
“From a high view, this tool really gives you proper insight into who you owe, how much you owe, and what your options are.”
Despite the financial burden, McQueen said he wouldn’t trade in his education.
“I’m a huge advocate for higher education. I got a lot out of school. Even if you’re in this crazy economy, it isn’t all about how much you owe. We want to take that burden off of people and help them optimize their current situation. We want to make a complicated process super simple.”