Right now, we’re looking at a student loan crisis. Americans have $1.52 trillion in outstanding student loan debt—and counting. In fact, there’s a good chance that you have your own student loans and that you finished school owing nearly $30,000. For many, paying off that student loan debt can be a daunting task.
This is where ChangEd comes in. The ChangEd student loan app allows you to round up your purchases to the next dollar and use that spare change to pay off your student loans. The idea is that doing so allows you to easily put aside a little extra money each month to help pay down your student loans more quickly so that you can get out of debt sooner and save money on interest.
Let’s take a look at how it works.
What Is the ChangEd Student Loan App?
ChangEd, which is based in Chicago, was started by brothers Nick Sky and Dan Stelmach. They recognized that millennials are facing a challenge when it comes to managing their student loan debt. In order to combat that debt, the brothers came up with a solution that connects your bank account to your student loans and uses your pocket change to tackle your debt.
By rounding up transactions, the ChangEd app ensures that you barely notice the money coming out of your checking account. Plus, you don’t have to consciously make an extra payment when you get enough extra money to put a little bit more toward your student loans. This is particularly helpful for those who pay their student loans via automatic payments since this is a way to automate adding an extra payment.
According to ChangEd, it’s possible to save up to $14,000 in interest on your student loans and knock up to six years off your repayment term—just by having your pocket change automatically applied toward paying off your student loan debt.
Features of the ChangEd App
The ChangEd student loan app works by rounding up your everyday transactions. So, say you buy a coffee for $3.45. ChangEd will “round up” the transaction to $4. The extra $0.55 is added to previous roundups. As soon as you reach $5, your money is moved from your account and into an FDIC-insured bank account controlled by ChangEd.
As your account builds up to $100, ChangEd sends an extra payment to your student loan servicer. Depending on your servicer’s policies and loan information, you can request to have the extra amount put directly toward your principal, which is the most efficient way of paying down your debt.
Some of the things you can expect from ChangEd in terms of features include:
- Track transactions to see how much you have in roundups
- Templates of letters to send to your servicers specifying how to apply your extra payments
- Monitor how your extra payments affect your loans
- Link credit cards as well as bank accounts
- Ability to make payments on others’ student loans to help them
- Mobile and online access to your account
Realize, too, that using ChangEd comes with a fee of $1 per month. That amount is deducted from your ChangEd balance.
What are the Benefits of the ChangEd App?
The biggest benefit of the ChangEd app is that it helps you pay off your student loans faster. You can knock several years off your loan and save thousands of dollars in interest payments. What could you do with that extra money?
Plus, because of the way ChangEd is set up, you can make extra student loan payments automatically, without needing to go through the hassle of doing it yourself. Once you’re set up with ChangEd, the work is done for you. The app analyzes your spending and identifies roundups, makes the transfers, and then sends money to your servicer—all without extra effort from you.
With the ChangEd app, you’re making a difference in your student loans without having to do anything extra. The app even limits its withdrawals to $10 a day in an effort to hopefully protect you from overdrawing your account if you spend a lot in one day and have a lot of roundups.
Also, because the money is yours, you can get it back if you close your account. ChangEd will refund any remaining money back to your own bank account when you close your account.
While there are a number of great things about the ChangEd student loan app, there are a few potential downsides.
By rounding up your purchases, ChangEd potentially takes more money out of your account during months that are more expensive. For example, if you spend a significant amount of money on gifts in December and make more transactions than usual, you will be putting more towards your student loans during a month where you might not be able to afford it. There’s even the potential for overdrawing your account and dealing with the attendant fees.
On the flip side, if you don’t make a lot of purchases one month, then the amount that you put towards your loans could be negligible. It might take several months to build up to the $100 necessary to send an additional payment to your servicer. If you were to put the same amount of money towards your student loan every month, rather than every three or four months, you would save money in interest over time and pay down your loan even faster.
What Do People Say?
First of all, it’s worth noting that billionaire investor Mark Cuban thinks ChangEd is a great idea; he liked it enough on the TV show Shark Tank that he is partially funding the effort.
In Apple’s App Store for iPhones, the ChangEd app has 3.4 stars out of 5. Many of the reviewers cited a few usability issues and noted that some banks aren’t adequately supported. However, there were also happy reviewers who pointed out that once everything was set up, the process was painless, and they were pleasantly surprised to see their progress.
Overall, this app is great for student loan borrowers hoping to get rid of their debt faster, want a simple way to do it, and might not feel comfortable allocating a set amount of money each month toward rapid pay down.
However, for better results, you might be better off setting up a bill pay for a set amount each month and tackling your debt more consistently. Use ChangEd as a backup to find even more to put toward repayment.
ChangEd can be a great way to kickstart your early student loan payoff with pocket change and everyday purchases, and then when your finances improve, you can move to other ways to turbo-charge your efforts.
If you are unsure about ChangEd, you can check out some other student loan apps that can help with repayment.