BOSTON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- SmarterBank®announced today the winner of its $25,000 #CrushStudentDebt Sweepstakes. The winner, randomly selected from thousands of entrants, is Katie Tressel, a junior at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. The winnings will pay off student loans from her freshman and sophomore years, as well as her upcoming loans for her junior year.
"We're so excited to be able to help Katie crush her student debt and give her a fresh start," said Kevin Walker, co-founder and CEO of SimpleTuition, the company behind SmarterBank and the sweepstakes. "She's a great example of the millions of students who are doing the right thing by getting a college education, but are taking on significant debt to make it happen. Our whole team has been incredibly impressed with Katie's hard work and dedication, and we know she'll make great use of this opportunity."
Tressel is a junior at Bellarmine University studying psychology and music. Although the private university awarded Tressel multiple scholarships, she has borrowed the maximum limit of federal student loans each year, based on her grade level, and is accumulating student debt. An incredibly hard worker, Tressel goes to school full-time, works 8-hour shifts at McDonald's during the weekends, and always studies late—all in pursuit of becoming a music therapist. It's a career path Katie hopes will allow her to help traumatized children. When asked how she reacted when she found out she was the winner, Tressel responded, "I've never won anything. It was kind of a shock at first. Now I just feel relieved. Music therapists don't make that much, so I was thinking I'd have to work a second job after graduation to afford my student loan payments, but maybe now that won't be necessary."
Tressel heard about the $25,000 #CrushStudentDebt sweepstakes from the Bellarmine University Office of Financial Aid. "At Bellarmine, we're always mindful of the difficult decisions students and their families face regarding student loans and college selection,"said Sean Ryan, vice president for enrollment management at Bellarmine University. "In addition to awarding scholarships and helping our students find grants, our staff is always on the lookout for anything we can do to help our students avoid debt, or if loans are necessary, better manage and pay their loans down.When we heard about the #CrushStudentDebt sweepstakes, we shared it with our students right away. We're just ecstatic that one of them won!"
Tressel will be honored today at an event at Bellarmine University at 2 pm, where executives from SimpleTuition will present her with the prize.
The $25,000 #CrushStudentDebt sweepstakes took place last spring as part of the launch of SmarterBucks® Rewards and SmarterBank, both new products created by Boston-based SimpleTuition. A revolutionary new rewards program, SmarterBucks allows members to earn cash-back rewards that are used to pay down any student loan. The SmarterBank checking account provides an additional opportunity to earn rewards on everyday purchases with its SmarterBank Visa® Debit card. Based on the positive response to the #CrushStudentDebt sweepstakes, the company has also announced that all members of its free SmarterBucks program will be eligible for a monthly giveaway of $1,000 in student loan payments.
"With the $25,000 #CrushStudentDebt sweepstakes we were able to make a difference for one student," added Walker. "But with SmarterBucks and SmarterBank, we're working hard to have a lasting impact on millions of students by getting them out of debt faster so they can get on with life."
SmarterBank is a new online checking account designed to help the millions of people with education debt. SmarterBank account holders earn SmarterBucks rewards which automatically make extra payments on any student loan. Banking services for SmarterBank are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. SmarterBank was developed by SimpleTuition, which has helped more than 10 million families afford higher education. SmarterBank and SimpleTuition are headquartered in Boston, Mass., and backed by Atlas Venture, Flybridge Capital Partners, and North Hill Ventures. For more information, visit SmarterBank.com.