The True Costs of College: Best Websites and Apps to Track Your Student Loans

thetruecostsofcollege

I’m all about tracking my student loans using modern technology. There is no secret that I love using Mint.com to track all my personal finance, but I also utilize other sites as well to track my student loan debt. Of course, being the ultra dork, I also created my own Excel spreadsheet to track my repayment status of each loan. I’m a little OCD if you haven’t figured that out yet.

The Best Websites and Apps to Track Your Student Loans
  1. Mint.com – I LOVE Mint for everything personal finance related. If you haven’t started your free Mint account yet then I suggest you stop reading this right now and do that. Mint allows you to link up all your financial accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards, loans (student, car, house, etc.), and your investment accounts. It uses bank security so all your data is secured. It’s a great tool to look objectively at your entire financial picture at once. Mint will also give you payment due reminders in case you haven’t set up autopay on your loans, which clearly you should do because you often get an interest rate reduction saving you money in the long run! Unfortunately with Mint you can’t apply more extensive tracking on your student loans like some of the options below. However, I am a strong believer that Mint is a great tool to track your personal finances as a whole. Mint also as an app for both the iphone and Android phones.
  2. ReadyFor Zero –ReadyForZero is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools for tracking my student loan debt. Not only can you link all your student loans, but you can also link your credit cards as well. IuseReadyForZero for my student loan debt since I do not have credit card debt, but if you did, you can use this tool for just credit card debt or the combination of the two. Once you link your accountstoReadyForZero, they will create a free personalized debt repayment plan.
    The Debt Avalanche Chart in ReadyForZero
    The Debt Avalanche Chart in ReadyForZero

    ReadyForZero uses secure 256 bit SSL encryption methods, the same as your banks, to ensure that all your data is secure and safe. To create your personalized plan, you must first begin by selecting how much each month you can contribute to your total debt payments. For example, I can budget a maximum of $550-$600 a month for my loan repayments. That includes the $450 I regularly pay for my monthly minimum student loan payments. Normally I can contribute an extra $100 to $150 a month on top of my minimums to pay my debt off faster. ReadyForZero will then automatically calculate estimated total debt payoff end date (4/18 for me!) and how much interest you’ll pay over that timeframe. ReadyforZero uses the Avalanche debt reduction method targeting the loans with the highest interest rate to pay off first. ReadyForZero displays your payment plan in graphical forms using a fun graph where you can watch your debt go down over time and a payment timeline bar. When you pay a loan off it turns gold and displays a trophy! ReadyForZero offers a free basic version and a paid subscription version where you can access your credit score and pay bills from their site. I use the free version. ReadyForZero currently offers an app for the iphone and is working on an Android app.

    The ReadyForZero milestone payment timeline - who doesn't love a trophy at the finishline!
    The ReadyForZero milestone payment timeline – who doesn’t love a trophy at the finishline!
  3. Tuition.io – Tuition.io is similar toReadyForZero. You link up your student loan accounts to their site and they’ll help you create a personalized plan to pay off your loans.Tuition.io provides interactive graphs that displays your debt repayment over time. They will also help you visualize how much you can save if you pay an extra amount towards your loans each month. One of the best features of Tuition.io is that it educates you on the pros and cons of each time of repayment plans offered by student loan companies in case the traditional standard 10 year repayment plan is tough for you to manage. Tuition.io is free to use, but makes its money through if you decide to consolidate your loans. Consolidation can usually reduce your interest rate and reduce your monthly payments thus saving you money. Read the fine print before you explore this option. Tuition.io informed me that I could qualify for loan consolidation with an interest rate of 2.91%! That is a huge decrease from my average of 6.36% amongst my loans. When I researched the option I discovered that it is variable interest rate, meaning that it could change to a much higher rate. When I first graduated from grad school I looked into loan consolidation because my loan payments were too high for me to afford. One of the big reasons I did not end up consolidating was that if you go back to school you cannot put your loans into deferment while attending school like you can with federal loans. So be aware of this caveat. One of the coolest things about Tuition.io that you or someone else can buy “gifts” in the form of student loan payment gift certificates to help you pay off your loans. The “gifts” would make great Christmas or birthday presents! I like tuition.io, but there are still some glitches in the site. The site is still in Beta production and I’m sure over time it will improve.

    The Tuition.io debt avalanche chart
    The Tuition.io debt avalanche chart
  4. SaveUp – SaveUp is quickly becoming one of my favorite sites. It does not really allow you to track your debt like ReadyForZero and Tuition.io, but you can track it as you pay it off. It is more similar to Mint.com. You can link you student loans, bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts to earn credits. These credits can be turned into “plays.” Each day SaveUp gives you 3 plays for chances to win prizes ranging from student loan payments to an around-the-world vacation. Every time you make a loan payment or add money to your savings account you earn credits to earn more plays. You can turn up to 500 credits into 5 plays a day. The more you save and pay off debt the more chances you have to win prizes. You’re awarded for good financial choices! I’ve been playing for about 5 weeks now. I haven’t won anything yet, but I’m hoping someday I will. SaveUp just makes student loan debt a little bit more exciting instead of depressing!

As you can see there are many ways to track your student loan debt as well as all your personal finances in one or more places. I use Mint and SaveUp on a daily basis and check ReadyForZero on a bi-monthly schedule when my loan payments are processed. I also track everything in my personal finance spreadsheets on Excel. I’m a stronger believer in being proactive with your personal finances and there are no excuses when you can sign up for a website and/or app that does all the work for you!

What tools do you use to track your debt? Are there other websites and apps that I should try?

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by any of the above companies for this post. All the opinions above are my own. I am just a strong believer in the above tools to manage your personal finances and I encourage others to check them out.  

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