Kevin Foster graduated from Manhattan Christian College in 2012 with $32,000 in student loan debt, and now he’s had his student loans paid off by an online trivia game.
Foster signed up for a pay-to-play online trivia game, Givling, which promised to pay off the student debt of some of its members. He didn’t expect to benefit, and instead worked three jobs — in a kitchen at Manhattan Christian College, as a paraeducator in a special education classroom in a local high school, and as a server in a restaurant at a retirement hall — to pay off his student loans, contributing about $500 a month toward the principal.
In June, he was notified that Givling paid off the entirety of his loans. They surprised him at his home, writes Abby Jackson of Business Insider.
Foster reportedly couldn’t believe the minor miracle:
I looked down and there was the check behind him. That’s when I started freaking out.
Givling, which describes itself as “gamified crowdfunding,” launched in March of this year. People with student loan debt can sign up to be put in a queue for repayment, and they themselves don’t have to play any games. Gamers fund these gifts by answering true or false questions in teams of three. A round costs $.50 plus $.30 in fees with a free round once a day. The team that scores the most is eligible for a $4 million prize, and smaller daily prizes are awarded as well.
According to its website, Givling aims to:
… merge crowd funding with a game to solve a major financial problem and reward the funders for their generosity.
Questions span a variety of topics from US geography to birth control in Ancient Greece, writes Jazmyn Reed of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Chief Marketing Officer of Givling Gayle Okumura Sullivan explained the model and its appeal:
It’s really gaining momentum now. This whole thing is concepts, the idea of a trivia, pay-to-play game where 90% of what you’re paying is given away. It’s divided between daily rewards and fighting student debt.
It’s really working. Every day three people win, they’re paying down student debt and people are having fun doing it. It’s a major issue and this is a totally unique approach.
The real goal is to fund as many loans as possible.
The online game was founded by Lizbeth Pratt, a Stanford graduate. She declared bankruptcy after a business partnership in which she was swindled out of money. She won the case, but was left with no money.
Pratt says on her website:
I was reading that Congress had passed a law forbidding student debt holders from declaring bankruptcy. Donald Trump, I, gamblers, the manager that swindled me — we all declared bankruptcy. How could it be against the law for a student loan holder to declare bankruptcy, simply because he/she bought into the American dream of a college education?
Givling plans on making a mobile app. It makes sense, since its business model follows QuizUp, a smash hit of 2014, which raised $26 million in capital funding, writes Rob Boffard of Wired.
Now that he doesn’t have student loans to worry about, Foster said he has moved to Oklahoma with his wife and become a pastor, running a children’s ministry and a youth group. He has also taken two mission trips to the Philippines, where he plans on opening an orphanage to help child victims of sex trafficking.
However, his wife still has $10,000 in student loan debt to repay.