Tropical Financial Credit Union in Miramar, Fla., is making it easier and faster for former college students to unburden themselves of crippling student debt a few pennies and nickels at a time, saving them thousands of dollars in interest payments.
Americans owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student loans, the Federal Reserve reports, which tops annual credit card and auto loan debt in the U.S. According to StudentLoanHero.com, the 2017 graduating class had an average loan balance of $39,400, up 6% from 2016. That figure doubles when you factor in 6.8% interest over a 25-year repayment term.
The Tropical Financial Student Round Up powered by the ChangEd app converts spare change into additional loan payments. Members link their debit or credit cards to the app, and then every time they make a purchase, the amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar.
That spare change goes into a government-insured account. Once the balance hits $100, the money goes to the loan servicer to pay down the student loan.
“You spend $2.45 for a cup of coffee, and 55 cents goes towards the student loan. Three cents here, 45 cents there, and soon it adds up,” says Amy McGraw, vice president of marketing at the $712 million asset credit union. “These borrowers could pay down their loans quicker if they regularly made additional monthly payments. But that takes disciplined planning and budgeting, which is easier said than done. We are providing a less stressful and more realistic solution using pocket change that won’t likely be missed.”
According to ChangEd, the average user can cut six years off of their repayment term and save $14,000 in payments.
The Student Round Up app is another way Tropical Financial improves members’ financial standing, says President/CEO Rich Helber.
“The piling up of student debt is a crisis in our country,” he says. “Many people are still paying off loans well into their 40s and 50s, affecting their ability to reach some personal milestones such as buying a home, getting married, or starting a business. With this new technology, we are here to help our members relieve the burden a bit so that they achieve their milestones and financial goals.”
Everyone who opens a checking account at Tropical Financial is eligible to use the app at no cost. Plus, family members can direct their spare change to their loved one’s student loan balance.