Finovate Fall 2012's afternoon session today included free e-solutions to two widespread needs that don't get much attention: Managing college loans and helping loved ones--and others--who need extra funds to pay their own bills.
•Indebted college graduates might appreciate Tuition.io, a free service that helps manage education loans. Tuition.io uploads all your loans in one place to show how much you owe on each, how much you need to pay each month, interest rates, servicer names, and contact information. Bar graphs show how far along you are in repaying each loan. An interactive slider shows how much you can save over the life of a loan by changing your payments per month. A customized calendar notifies you of due dates.
Tuition.io also displays various options and features of each loan, which aren't always transparent to borrowers. Through Tuition.io you might learn, for example, that a loan's terms let you switch to a graduated-payment option. Clicking on that option yields a pop-up box that shows its pro's and con's. The site also can analyze your loans to determine the optimal way to pay and manage them. If you decide, then, to consolidate a few of them, Tuition.io pre-fills all the necessary forms with your personal information, at no cost.
•PayTap lets you remotely pay part or all of a bill or charge for someone else, and ensure it gets where it's supposed to go. Say your daughter in college who's sharing an apartment needs to pay her portion of an electric bill. She sends you an e-mail with a link to her PayTap page. You pay her share of the bill through PayTap; the payment goes directly to the electric company without disclosing to the utility or your daughter anything about the source of the money. PayTap then informs both of you that you've paid her share, so she doesn't need to bug you about it. Her roommates, too, can go on PayTap to see that her share is paid.
Neither you nor your daughter has to set up a PayTap account to pay through the system. To reduce the likelihood of being charged third-party fees, PayTap CEO Sean-Michael Daley says you can utilize an automatic clearinghouse (ACH) transaction through your checking account, or a low-cost payment system like Dwolla.
The system also could be quite useful for adult children who need to pay or share in paying bills for elderly parents; charity donors who want to anonymously aid specific individuals; or divorced parents who need to share certain bills for their children. Wedding guests could even use PayTap to jointly purchase an expensive gift. In his demo today, in fact, Daley showed how to pay jointly for a gift through Amazon.com, with which PayTap is an affiliate.
People already do this kind of bill paying informally, Daley notes. "This just does it in an upfront way," he says, "so you're not left holding the bag."