Chipper Helps College Grads Tackle Student Loan Debt

The Austin-based startup identifies better repayment plans and contributes the spare change from everyday purchases to student loan payments.
Written by Jeff Rumage
May 16, 2022Updated: May 27, 2022
Chipper founder and CEO Tony Aguilar is pictured at Capital Factory. | Photo: Chipper
Chipper founder and CEO Tony Aguilar. | Photo: Chipper

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Austin’s rising startups from last quarter here.

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Tony Aguilar is the first person in his family to graduate high school. So he and his family were understandably proud when he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance, business law and economics from Indiana University.

Aguilar felt like he was doing everything right — until he came to terms with the more than $100,000 in student debt that loomed over his bank account. 

“I had a mix of federal and private loans with monthly payments that were much higher than I was expecting, and I didn’t know who to call for guidance or advice,” he said.

Aguilar went on to work as a financial advisor and has spent the last decade specifically working with millennials to help them reach their financial goals. His last company, Student Loan Genius, created 401(k) accounts for student loan payments, along with other financial tools. 

In 2018, Aguilar founded Chipper to help students chip away at student loan debt by rounding up everyday purchases to the nearest dollar. The platform also helps users identify better repayment plans, including income-driven repayment plans, and looks for opportunities for student loan forgiveness.

As we climb, we must pull others along with us where we can. We started Chipper with the mission of helping those hit the hardest by student debt, which are people of color.”

Chipper saves users an average of $307 per month, according to the company, and has helped qualified applicants save more than $81 million over the past two years.

In March, Chipper received $5.6 million in seed funding to expand its user experience, partnerships and branding teams as it prepares for the student loan payment moratorium to lift in August.

Chipper, which has more than 80,000 users, made its platform free to users during the payment moratorium. Aguilar said tens of thousands of users have signed up for Chipper during this time to get ahead on their payments.

When the moratorium lifts, non-paying users can continue to sync loans and explore forgiveness and payment options.

For $4 per month, users can enroll in Chipper+, which provides additional support, auto-enrollment for forgiveness or repayment programs and access to the feature that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar for student loan payments. Users can also access the round-ups feature on its own for $2 per month. 

Aguilar is also active in the startup community, acting as a mentor and highlighting the venture capital funding gap for minorities and women.

In Chipper’s seed funding round, the startup partnered with the Cap Table Coalition, an organization dedicated to closing the racial wealth gap in the venture capital world. The Cap Table Coalition asks high-growth startup participants to allocate 10 percent of their funding round to underrepresented investors, but Chipper went a step further by contributing 25 percent of its seed round.

“As we climb, we must pull others along with us where we can,” Aguilar said. “We started Chipper with the mission of helping those hit the hardest by student debt, which are people of color.”

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