AUSTIN, Texas — Student loan payments have been on pause for the last two years, but millions will start paying toward their debt in September. Austin tech startup Chipper is helping borrowers pay back student loans by allowing them to round up on everyday purchases, and encourages people to do so while interest rates are at 0%.
It’s no secret Austin’s tech scene has grown since the start of the pandemic, but Chipper founder Tony Aguilar created the app two years before the trend towards Texas. Since then he’s been keeping up with discussions at the federal level centered around student loan cancellation.
As President Biden considers several options, Aguilar says his users often ask if their loans could be forgiven altogether.
“If there's no real solution to prevent the amount of debt people are getting in when they're going into school and just wiping it away, I don't think that makes a lot of sense,” Aguilar said. "The full forgiveness, I don't think it's gonna happen.”
On June 15, Biden received a letter from Democrats in Congress asking for a timeline on student loan cancellation. Biden has yet to respond.
“From what we're hearing, there's going to be 10K forgiveness across the board. That's going to help the bulk of the population. It's going to knock out a huge chunk of debt for most borrowers. We're hoping that there's some type of announcement here in the next month or so, that's going to happen right when it's been two and a half years,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar says until then, chipping in with the Chipper App is one of several ways to pay back student loans through the startup.
“On July 1, we're launching Chipper rewards, where if you shop with 350 brands that we've partnered with, those brands will kick back 4%, 5% or 6% of what you spend with them toward your student loans. The places you're shopping, the things you're buying every single day, can now go towards your student loan debt to help you get out of debt faster without thinking about it,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar founded Chipper because he was in that same position 10 years ago, $100,000 in debt after graduating college.
“This American Dream doesn't exist for me. I can't buy a home, I can't save for retirement,” Aguilar remembered thinking.
If in the future loans are wiped out completely, Aguilar is ready to take on the next “big” task.
“This is what we wanted to accomplish by starting Chipper. There's so many other problems that exist in the world too. I'm sure we'll move on and go solve something else that’s really big.”
The full letter Biden received from Democrats on June 15 follows: