A student loan consultant advises families before and after they begin borrowing student loans.
They could be a financial planner, a financial advisor, or a student loan attorney (like me).
Regardless of their title, a student loan consultant should be an expert that's capable of reviewing your financial situation to determine:
- eligibility for federal student aid
- whether you should borrow federal student loans or private student loans
- student loan repayment options while in school and beyond
- eligibility for loan forgiveness programs (e.g., Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness)
- repayment strategies for lowering your monthly payments (e.g., Income-Driven Repayment Plans)
- whether you should apply for loan consolidation or refinancing with a private lender
- help develop a financial plan to guide you through repayment.
How much does a student loan consultant cost
The costs for a student loan consultant varies. Some charge a one-time consultation fee for less than a few hundred dollars. Others may charge more.
Simply put, there isn't an industry-standard rate.
So how do you make sure you don't overpay for student loan help?
You call around. Talk to a handful of student loan consultants. Get a feel for them. How they work. Read their reviews. Trust your gut.
Sometimes the cheapest person is the right choice. Sometimes the person who charges the most is the best choice.
Do you need a student loan attorney?
Most student loan borrowers don't need an attorney. They need someone who knows what the hell they're doing when solving student loan problems.
Most people that hire me as their student loan attorney aren't hiring me to sue the U.S. Department of Education, financial institution, or a collection agency.
Instead, they're hiring me to give them sound, expert student loan advice about:
- the best loan repayment strategy (e.g., income-based repayment)
- their eligibility for student loan forgiveness programs like the PSLF program
- whether they should refinance for a lower interest rate
- how to get out of student loan default
- how to stop a student loan garnishment
- how to negotiate a student loan settlement for private loans and federal student loans
- how to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy
Basically, they're hiring me to offer advocacy and a super-charged student loan counseling service.
Free student loan debt help
Free student loan help is everywhere. There are podcasts, YouTube videos, Reddit boards, blogs, etc.
The hard part, though, is knowing what help is accurate and how it applies to your situation.
There's a lot of b.s. out there.
I see a lot of bad advice about choosing this loan repayment plan over this one. Or doing X to lower your monthly payment. Or paying a debt relief company that promises to eliminate your student loan debt, etc.
Basically, when you look for free student loan help, watch out of the student loan scams.
I don't say that to scare you. I'm just saying: watch out.