If you have a mind for trivia night at your local bar — but not for your student loan repayment — listen up.
A mobile trivia app called Givling is using advertising revenue to help crowdsource its users’ consumer debt, including student loans. There were more than 450,000 users at last count, and since the company’s founding in 2015, more than 5,000 of them have shared $3.1 million in prize money. The site lists almost 60 student and home loans that have been repaid to date.
To find yourself in the winner’s circle, you’ll need to put forth some time and effort, but if you’re as fortunate as the four borrowers below, it might pay off.
How Givling works
Users can play two rounds of trivia for free each day on the app, then purchase additional rounds for $0.50 each. You’re assigned randomly to a team up with two other users — the team with the most points splits the weekly cash pot three ways.
You could win the ultimate prize — up to $50,000 toward a student loan (or mortgage) repayment — by working your way up the Givling “Queue.” To do that, you earn points by playing trivia, signing up with the app’s sponsors and inviting friends to join. There are also random daily drawings for all users ($500) and weekly drawings for users with a student or mortgage loan in the red ($10,000).
Givling, a for-profit company, keeps 10% of the money it earns from displaying those in-app advertisements and working with sponsors. Users, including student loan borrowers and homeowners, take home the other 90%.
The winnings are taxable unless they’re used for student loan repayment, according to Givling. So if your jackpot goes entirely to student debt, you shouldn’t owe any taxes on it, but you should consult a tax professional to be sure.
Image credit: Givling
4 borrowers who won big on Givling
If you’re seeking clever ways to whittle down your debt, you might not mind sitting through a commercial or two. These four borrowers shared their stories with Student Loan Hero — check out the details below, along with some thoughts on whether you should download the app too.
1. Kayla Ventura won $10,901
Image credit: Kayla Ventura
After growing up watching “Jeopardy!” and other quiz shows on TV, Ventura quickly latched onto a Givling competitor called HQ that also awards prize money but doesn’t cater specifically to student loan borrowers. Once she learned about Givling in 2018, she gave it a try and appreciated its rapid-fire trivia style.
Questions are posed as statements and are answered by choosing true or false. You might be asked whether Guantanamo Bay detainees are allowed to watch the World Cup, Catholic priests have always had to take a vow of celibacy or if any buried bodies of U.S. presidents have been unearthed, to name a few examples.
Despite winning more than $10,000 in April 2019, Ventura still has six figures of loan debt, especially after attending graduate school for her physician assistant (PA) degree. Now working in Florida as a PA specializing in surgery, she said she plans to pay it off over 20 years, and with any luck, could shorten that span with more trivia winnings.
“My strategy was playing more and more games to practice,” Ventura said. “When I get questions wrong about a specific topic, I go and research that topic and learn about it in case similar questions show up.”
2. Mike Rosser won $16,646
Image credit: Mike Rosser
Rosser started using Givling in 2015 after a friend won the daily trivia prize — back then, it ranged between $40-$50 because of the app’s smaller user base. He said he liked that Givling was free to play (aside from consuming the advertisements) and could be played any time of day.
Once he found out about the app’s queue for student (and home) loan payoffs, he redoubled his efforts. He played almost daily for four years before sharing a nearly $50,000 pot with two users on his randomly assigned trivia team.
“The prize money will allow me to completely pay off my loan with the highest interest rate, which will make a huge difference for me,” said Rosser, who had about $51,000 left to repay on the approximately $65,000 he borrowed for college and veterinary school.
“Once this loan is wiped out, the majority of my monthly payments will be going toward the principal balance for the first time. I can’t wait to actually see my total balance decrease with every payment!” he said.
Rosser, a clinical pathology instructor at his alma mater’s veterinary laboratory, added that he felt some much-needed relief from the stress of seeing his debt grow as he sought a second degree.
“Since finishing my program, I’m now on track to pay off my student loans over a 10-year period, although the monthly payment still (stretches) my budget,” he said. “With the Givling prize money, my student loans no longer cause me the daily anxiety they once did, and I am so excited to have them out of my life.”
3. Dustin Gabler won about $35,000
Image credit: Dustin Gabler
Another trivia buff, Gabler had low expectations when he started using Givling in 2015.
“I figured if I could play a game that used the ad revenue to help pay off others’ student loans, I was contributing in some way,” Gabler said. “I never really looked at it as a way out of debt for myself, to be honest.”
Three trivia team victories later, and he’s shaved off almost five years off his loan repayment — something he deemed impossible when he graduated $40,000 in the hole, with low salary prospects as an English major.
“You may end up winning, but simply doing good and helping others with no cost to you makes you feel good,” said Gabler, who has about $10,000 left in student loan debt and is hoping to zero his balance within a year. “It’s great to watch people have their loans paid, even if you know you’ll never be the one that gets the $50,000 loan payment.”
4. Laura Clasemman won about $17,300
Image credit: Laura Clasemman
Clasemman first heard about Givling when she read that an Indianapolis man used it and received a $50,000 student loan debt payoff in November 2018. Three months later, she made playing trivia on her phone app a regular part of her commute.
“I’m not very good at trivia but thought that playing Givling would be a fun way to pass the time,” she said. “When I found out at the end of this past March that I (had) been on the winning trivia team, I was very surprised.”
The 2013 graduate said she left school with about $70,000 in student loan debt. Her Givling winnings went directly to paying off her highest-interest private loans. She has about $38,000 left to repay and isn’t planning on deleting the app from her phone anytime soon.
Where Givling fits among student loan repayment strategies
You might be tempted to download an app like Givling or even attempt to make your TV debut on a student loan game show.
Despite winning five figures for their debt, however, all four of the borrowers above say you shouldn’t consider these options to be the one and only solution to your student loan repayment.
“Think of Givling like a free lottery ticket (but) with better odds,” said Rosser, the veterinary school graduate. “A lot of new users are discouraged by how difficult it is to reach the top of the $50,000 loan payoff queue, but just playing daily and getting lucky can earn you some cash.”
So even if you love trivia games and don’t mind long odds, consider our winning borrowers’ more reliable repayment strategies:
- Ventura uses the debt avalanche method: “My loan servicer requires the minimum monthly payment to be spread out equally between all my various loans with different interest rates. If I ever put extra money in my loans, I make sure to specify it to go towards the highest interest rate loan.”
- Rosser made voluntary payments during a deferment: “I paid as much on my loans as I could when they were in deferment (while attending veterinary school), even though a monthly payment was not due at that time. This really helped keep my total balance static once my loans went into repayment.”
- Gabler pays more than the minimum whenever possible: “Even $5. (It’s) more of a psychological thing because it helped me feel like I was going above and beyond … I put large portions of all of my tax refunds and salary bonuses directly to my loans before they hit my bank. That way, I never missed the money.”
- Clasemman takes a two-pronged approach: “I currently live at home with my family and limit how much I eat out to pay off my debt. I’m currently working full time, and I make extra payments on my student loans whenever I can to save money on interest.”
Other dependable methods to manage your debt include:
- Income-driven repayment (IBR), which caps your federal loan payments at a percentage of your income.
- Direct loan consolidation, which groups your federal loans into a single loan, and optionally, can include a switch to an income-based repayment plan.
- Student loan refinancing, which combines your federal and private loans, and potentially reduces your overall interest rate, as well as lengthening or shortening your loan term. (But note that you’ll have to yield federal loan protections like IBR).
Choosing one of these more serious strategies won’t stop you from taking cash windfalls and applying them to your debt — you can do both.
Think of Givling then, as Rosser suggests, like a free lottery ticket — one that hopefully will win you freedom from debt.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
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3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
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5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.