An online gambling application that lets you “play” on student loan debt

If you are a college graduate and under heavy student loan debt, you might have dreamed of winning the lottery and paying off your student loan for free and clearly.

Sure, the odds of being a lottery winner are around 175 million to one, but if you could play an online trivia game that gave you a better chance of winning enough to pay off your loan – with a integrated community and a student credit counseling?

This is the premise of To give, a startup dedicated to eradicating student loan debt, one student at a time. The roughly 200,000 people registered to play trivia games on Givling’s free online gaming app are eligible to win daily cash prizes and up to $ 50,000 to pay off their student loans. Through its partners, Givling also offers credit counseling and access to low-cost insurance.

Givling isn’t designed to solve the student loan crisis – even with its loan payments, daily cash rewards, and other perks, the startup can only scratch the surface of the $ 1.45 trillion in student loan debt which weighs about 44 million Americans. But for many attendees, the tips and tools sponsored by Givling offer new hope – and the prizes can be life changing.

To give

“It was such an awesome and surreal moment,” said Jordan Shelton, 26, of Manhattan, Kansas, of the discovery he won an award for paying off his student loan debt. His student loan debt worth $ 33,000 barely budged, he noted, even after nearly four years of paying on an income-based plan. “I felt like I would pay this loan off the rest of my life with this plan,” said Shelton, whose degree focused on cross-cultural studies, “but it helped me and my wife , to do what we are most passionate about. ” (A Indianapolis Television the station covered Shelton receiving the surprise prize).

So far, the fast-growing startup has given over $ 606,000 and paid off student loans to nine Americans. Givling executives are quick to recognize the program’s limitations, but they are happy that they can throw a lifeline even for a small group of Americans drowning in student loan debt.

“We know we are not the answer to the student loan crisis,” says Seth Beard, MBA, marketing director at Givling. “But being able to write off student loan debt for a small number of people, it doesn’t feel like a better feeling. It’s so stimulating; that’s wonderful. Every morning, I can’t wait to get up and go to work. And this is something that I have never fully experienced before. It’s more than a job; it is a mission.

How Givling works

Launched in December 2016 after its beta phase, Givling makes money through partnerships, contributions and games. In the latter case, the startup makes money every time its quiz players interact with ads and video ads, which also gives players more points and increases their chances of winning.

After using an invite code – SB163487 – to register for Givling, you join a randomly chosen team of three. You and your team members then answer true or false questions until you cross out (the more correct answers you have, the more points you earn and the more likely you are to be chosen for a prize). You can earn points by playing two games a day for free, and earn even more points by paying Givling Coins to keep playing. Even if you don’t win, you help pay off other student loans: Daily crowdfunding – with partners and ad clicks – funds the next $ 50,000 prize as well as daily cash prizes. (For those who need help with the Givling app, the site also offers a video tutorial.)

In addition, Givling’s partner Circle has decided to fund monthly prizes of $ 1,000 through November for attendees using the Circle app. “It added more excitement to the game,” says Beard, 32, himself a recent college graduate who is paying off debt he accumulated for his MBA. (“The only difficulty with working here is not being able to win anything,” he jokes.) Players can also give or sell their spot in the live fundraising queue to someone. else. After factoring in fees from Braintree and Paypal, 75% of the winnings go to the winner at the top of the queue, 15% to daily cash prizes, and 10% to Givling.

To give

The startup is the brainchild of Libby Pratt, a resident of Maine, who early in her business career was forced to declare bankruptcy – a painful decision, but one that allowed her to start from scratch. After becoming a successful stockbroker, she earned enough to retire in her forties. Years later, she heard about the student debt crisis and was shocked to learn that even bankruptcy cannot wipe out student loans.

” ” It’s scandalous ! “” Beard remembers saying. Pratt felt that since she was able to change her life after her early mistake, debt-ridden college graduates should have the same chance “instead of being stuck in a dark tunnel with no hope of escaping,” says Beard. . Because crowdfunding sites were already overrun with people crushed by medical debts and emergencies, this didn’t seem like a good solution. “But the idea was that if we are able to play with it, we can make a difference.”

Victories and defeats

Givling had its bumps along the way: Its followers were so zealous in playing games and interacting with ads that the startup encountered an unexpected hurdle. “The major ad providers were absolutely convinced that we had bots that automatically clicked on ads,” Beard said with a laugh. A browser criticized the company for its unusually high click-through rate, but it is now reconsidering its decision.

However, the company persevered, creating an invitation code, finding new platforms, and advertising their program through events such as a college relay race to hand over one of their $ 50,000 checks. to the next winner.

Givling has also stepped up by partnering with other organizations, such as Circle, a startup that lets you send money anywhere in the world through a tool similar to text messaging apps. Circle gave four gifts of $ 1,000 to Givling players. which has proven to be very popular. As a recent Circle Award winner wrote on Givling, “Winning the cash award was a huge relief. I have struggled since my loans matured to pay the payments and I still have money to save for the future. I was late, discouraged, and downcast …[This] get me back on track. It is a precious gift not to have to worry so much about money every day.

During this time, Champions Empowerment Institute – a partner of Givling – offers a low-cost subscription to online courses, financial literacy training, a grants and scholarship search engine and free loan advice for students at risk of default and default of payment.

Givling has also partnered with Lemonade Inc., a peer-to-peer insurance startup whose mission is to “transform insurance from a necessary evil into social good”. Lemonade offers tenant insurance for as little as $ 5 per month and home insurance for as little as $ 25 per month, and Givling participants who purchase it receive points in the Givling app.

“Our two companies have integrated social good into our business model; it’s not marketing or an afterthought, ”says Yael Wissner-Levy, director of strategic communications at Lemonade. “Givling’s mission is also based on values. And as a certified B-corporation, we naturally partner with like-minded organizations.

With help from Circle, Lemonade, and Champion Empowerment Institute, Givling hopes to give Americans struggling with debt tools to help them cut costs. He also hopes to raise enough money to eventually pay off several student loans each day, whether people attended a brick and mortar school or a online college. “If all 200,000 registered users spent even a dollar on the site on any given day, we could immediately pay off two loans of $ 50,000,” says Beard.

“We recently paid off a student loan to someone in Los Angeles who went to school late in life and found himself paying $ 600 a month just for student loan interest,” says Beard. “This debt was completely taking over her life … Now she is free to move on.”

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