A Guide to Splitting Rent With Roommates

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A new financial service called Group Pay helps college roommates calculate the cost of shared living expenses.

Students rooming together in college apartments may not like each other, but they might like a new “group-based” application that splits monthly bills up even-steven.

Chicago-based WilliamPaid developed the idea and its product, “Group Pay.” WilliamPaid says Group Pay allows college roommates to share, manage and pay bills online “without typical rent collection hassles.”

No doubt, there is a demand for such a service. The National Multi Housing Council says there are more than 38.3 million rental households in the U.S. today with more than two roommates currently living there. The ingredients in multi-resident households for financial combustion is high, especially for young Americans with little to no experience in managing finances.

WilliamPaid intends for Group Pay to solve those monthly rental payment issues between roommates, primarily by setting up payment schedules, issuing “payment” alerts via texts or e-mails and speeding up payments via debit or credit cards (and even allowing roommates to make payments from outside accounts, such as a parent’s credit card or bank account).

Group Pay bundles all of the separate payments from each roommate, and makes one total payment to the landlord. The software also tells each roommate who contributed to the rental payment and who didn’t.

That could make millions of collegiate households more stress-free.

"Collecting rent from roommates is a hassle. Conflicting class schedules, extracurricular activities and life in general can mean that some off-campus college roommates don't ever really see each other," says Jessica Nunemaker, director of social media at MyCollegeGuide.org. "Trying to track down various members of your off-campus household can definitely make it a lot more difficult and stressful to collect the monthly rent."

Parents may appreciate the fact that the checks they cut to their college-age kids will actually go to rent, and not to less-pressing needs like paying for the next beer run or a shopping spree at Abercrombie & Fitch (Stock Quote: ANF).

"When my daughter and son shared rent with roommates during college, it was always an issue of concern that the rent wouldn't get paid on time, or go directly to the landlord after payments were gathered," said Suzanne Shaffer, parent and founder of ParentsCountdowntoCollegeCoach.com. "If roommates have disagreements and they will this service will assure that no one has an excuse for not paying their rent on time."

WilliamPaid touts software as a good way for college students to learn solvent money management skills, be more accountable for their financial responsibilities, and build up good financial credit a vital issue when graduating from college.

If Group Pay really works meaning college-aged roommates actually commit to using the service after their parents’ ardent calls for them to do so then paying rent may be one less worry for both students and their families.

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