6 People to Ask for Advice on Student Loan Repayment

 May 5, 2020
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Refinance Student Loan rates starting at 1.88% APR

1.88% to 6.15% 1
VARIABLE APR

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1.88% to 5.64% 2
VARIABLE APR

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2.50% to 6.85% 3
VARIABLE APR

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  • Variable APR

Whether you feel buried by your student loan debt or merely have pressing questions, it’s always wise to ask for help.

With friends sometimes giving questionable advice, and with debt relief companies offering high-priced services, however, you might not be sure who to contact about student loans.

Here is our list of six reliable people to approach for repayment support, at little risk and potentially less cost to you:

1. Your support system
2. Your school or your employer
3. A certified or licensed financial professional
4. Student loan lender or servicer
5. Student loan lawyer
6. Tax professional

1. Your support system

Asking mom, dad or your significant other for help with your student loans might not be your first choice — but it’s a good first step.

Regardless of whether your parents help you financially, they might offer sage advice. Alternatively, your significant other could agree to help you increase your monthly payment, for example, if it can speed you toward your shared financial goals as a couple.

Instead of asking for handouts, look to your family and close friends as a support system. Although they might be limited in how they can help, they could be willing to listen and share your burden.

Plus, if you can’t talk about your student loan situation in your household, how can you expect to seek help elsewhere?

2. Your school or your employer

If you’re no longer enrolled, you might think your school’s financial aid office is off-limits now that you’re off campus. Think again. Your campus aid representatives could explain how to get off on the right foot with your repayment, for example, or answer some of the questions you might have about your options.

If you’re already well on your way in the real world, however, you might also find advice in a seemingly unlikely place — at work. Talking about your student loans at work could help to remove the taboo from your debt. You might find an unlikely coworker with whom you could commiserate.

Even more importantly, an employer with a generous benefits package might be willing to tack on student loan repayment assistance or substitute it for 401(k) matching. If your boss or human resources department needs some convincing, you might mention some of the well-known companies that offer student loan support.

3. A certified or licensed financial professional

When dealing with thousands of dollars in student loan debt, you might be looking for more than just a little advice or a bit of help with your monthly payment. A financial professional could help you navigate more nuanced repayment problems, and they don’t always have to come at a premium cost.

The Financial Planning Association hosts events where certified financial planners consult on a pro bono basis, for instance. And by speaking with a certified professional, you can ensure you won’t fall prey to scammers promising unlikely relief for a fee.

For more formal or extended sessions, you might consider a nonprofit like American Consumer Credit Counseling that offers one-on-one support for student loan borrowers. During a free session, you’d work with a counselor to create a budget and action plan for your repayment.

And before deciding to hire a student loan counselor at a higher cost, consider another free resource: Nonprofit Inceptia offers trained counselors over the phone if you’re delinquent on your loans and are in danger of defaulting.

4. Student loan lender or servicer

If you’re having trouble making payments or just want to optimize your repayment, talking to your lender or loan servicer is always a smart move.

For more traditional questions, find your servicer — the private company that manages your repayment — via the Federal Student Aid website. Your servicer could help you process an application for a deferment or forbearance, for example, or switch to an income-driven repayment plan.

And if you’re interested in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, note that FedLoan Servicing (one of the government’s 11 servicers currently handles all such requests.

For federal loans, your lender and servicer aren’t one and the same. Your lender might be the Department of Education or, in the case of Perkins loans, your school. The Department of Education offers different phone support for different repayment problems:

  • For loan forgiveness because of your school’s wrongdoing: Contact Borrower Defense Customer Support at 855-279-6207.
  • For help with income-driven repayment plan or loan consolidation applications: The Student Loan Support Center phone number is 800-557-7394.
  • For help with a default or wage or income tax refund garnishment: Contact the Default Resolution Group at 800-621-3115.
  • For disputes with your servicer: Contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group at 877-557-2575.

If you feel that your federal loan servicer isn’t acting in your best interest — some servicers have been accused of misleading borrowers — lean on the federal student aid ombudsman. They can help you evaluate your loan repayment options even if they don’t side with you over your servicer.

If you borrowed via the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program before its closure, your guaranty agency could have an ombudsman. Like the federal student aid ombudsman, they’re a neutral party and won’t favor you or your servicer during a dispute.

In the case of private student loans, contact your lender’s customer service department. Although it’s become common for banks, credit unions and online lenders to offer chat and email support, dial their phone number to get a real person on the line.

If you borrowed from a bank with a brick-and-mortar branch, you also have the option of walking in for a face-to-face catch-up. Similarly, if you’re shopping around for refinancing lenders, you might prioritize those with top-notch customer support.

Private lenders won’t offer you the services of an unbiased third party, but you could rely on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The government agency accepts complaints about student loan servicers and reroutes them to your lender or servicer for a response. The CFPB also offers phone support at 855-411-2372 to talk through this process.

5. Student loan lawyer

If you’re considering asking a lawyer for advice, things are getting prickly, and you’ll likely have to reach deeper into your pockets.

Student loan lawyers could help you navigate more troublesome situations, including:

  • Negotiating a loan settlement with a lender or servicer or collections agency
  • Representing you in court if you face or file a lawsuit for your debt
  • Filing and handling your bankruptcy case

With that said, a lawyer who specializes in federal and private student loan debt — not every lawyer is knowledgeable about both — might advertise services that you can handle yourself. You don’t need a lawyer, for example, to correct your credit report or pause your loan payments via deferment or forbearance.

When the need arises, finding a student loan lawyer is a lot easier than finding the right one. Ask the right questions to ensure they’re a fit for your case. You might want to know if they’ve solved a problem like yours in the past.

6. Tax professional

If you think student loans are more complicated than they need to be (we’d agree), try taxes on for size. It can get even more confusing when student loans and taxes intersect. When they do, you’ll benefit from working with a tax professional.

A tax professional could help you explore your options if you’re facing a hefty tax bill as a result of receiving student loan forgiveness or cancellation.

As with a lawyer, however, ask yourself if you could complete on your own what a tax professional is offering to accomplish. Better yet, ask the tax professional that question. You can estimate your tax benefits from repaying your education, for example, using our student loan interest deduction calculator.

Seek help for your student loan repayment

Talking to someone — anyone — before making major decisions about your student loan debt is the way to go. Even if they don’t offer a ready-made solution, you can benefit from the discussion.

Aside from our six suggestions, think about the people inside and outside of your social circle who could be useful as you pay down your debt. We interviewed one woman who repaid her balance after seeking the advice of millionaires.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.88% – 6.15%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.88% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.50% – 6.85%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.89% – 5.90%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.99% – 6.59%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.88% – 5.64%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

1.90% – 5.25%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

2.13% – 5.25%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Interest Rate Disclosure

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.48% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.

Auto Pay Discount Disclosure

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples

These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.59% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.


6 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

1. NaviRefi loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC, a member of the Navient family of companies, subject to individual approval and underwriting criteria. California residents only: Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license. Additional terms and conditions apply.

– To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen permanent resident of the United States, reside in a state we lend in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.navirefi.com/help-and-questions. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Loan terms are subject to eligibility. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application. Loan approval is subject to confirmation that your debt-to-income, free cash flow, credit history and application information meet the minimum requirements. You must have a minimum FICO score to be considered.

– You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.75% – 6.04% APR (2.50% – 5.79% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.13% – 5.89% APR (1.88% – 5.64% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

– You can take advantage of the 0.25% Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. NaviRefi rate ranges are current as of June 1, 2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

– Loan cost examples: These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,250. Your actual repayment terms may vary.

– The information provided on this page is updated as of 06/1/2021. Earnest Operations LLC reserves the right to modify or discontinue (in whole or in part) this loan program and its associated services and benefits at any time without notice. Check www.navirefi.com for the most up-to-date information. Terms and Conditions apply. Call 855-284-4893 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

– Earnest Operations LLC – NMLS #1204917, CA CFL #6054788 – 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105.
Navient Solutions, LLC – NMLS #212430 – 123 Justison St., Wilmington, DE 19801. Visit https://navirefi.com/lending-licenses for a full list of licensed states.


7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.