Across the country, college graduates with federal student loans have been notified that the COVID-19 payment pause ended this month and student loan payments have restarted.
The resumption of federal student loan payments represents an immediate, and in some cases substantial, payment stress. According to the Utah System of Higher Education, the average debt per borrower in Utah is $18,921.
Graduly, a Lehi startup, wants to help new college students in making loan decisions. It’s an online calculator designed to help students make informed decisions about how much to borrow for college. They assist in creating a comprehensive repayment plan by considering projected future income, exploring ways that costs can be reduced, and avoiding unnecessary debt.
“While Graduly doesn’t specifically help students who are graduated and in the process of repaying their debt, we help students and their parents as they make the decision of how much loan debt they should take on,” said Levi Wilson, a student entrepreneur and president of Graduly.
Many borrowers have increased their overall debt during the federal student loan deferral period. As of June 2023, 43.6 million individuals held a combined federal student loan debt of $1.64 trillion, according to the National Credit Union Administration.
Wilson said he’s concerned for graduates who are resuming federal loan payments because the economy has changed since payments were paused.
“Students who have been affected by our country’s macroeconomy have been put in a tough situation. A loss of good job opportunities, layoffs and inflation have all made it harder for these students to make their loan payments,” said Wilson.
Developed at Brigham Young University, the mission of Graduly is to empower students to make sound financial decisions and to achieve a good return from their educational investment.
“I partnered with Summit Ventures Studios (SVS) to license the idea for this technology from Brigham Young University. With my partnership, I serve as president and head of the company, SVS provides me with marketing, sales and technical support to make Graduly successful,” said Wilson.
Graduly’s college planning simulator is a simple way for students to understand their financial situation. “We have a seven-step process where students input their expenses, income, loans and college information,” said Wilson.
By merging a cost-of-living calculator, paycheck calculator, and student loan repayment estimator into a single, user-friendly interface, Graduly alleviates the stress of financial planning.
“Graduly’s goal is preventative,” said Wilson. “We want to help students before they go into an unreasonable amount of college debt based on their personal situation.”
Wilson believes that understanding your college financial plan will aid in maintaining student enrollment. Graduly’s tools can help prevent students from dropping out of school due to financial surprises because it “allows institutions to provide more accurate information to new and prospective enrollments,” said Wilson.
Graduly is currently in the process of testing their tools to improve user experience. Individuals can receive a complimentary walkthrough of the tool by contacting Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information can be found at graduly.io.