Student Loan Hero is coming to the rescue to answer your toughest questions. If you have a question that hasn’t been addressed on our Student Loan FAQ page, check out our Ask a Hero column. You may find what you need to tackle your student loans.
You might read a loan repayment success story and think, “Of course they paid off their debt, they had a full-time job and a big salary!”
Finding paying work and launching your career can be challenging when you’re weighed down by debt. But being in the red could help you earn some green. Don’t believe us? Consider the tales of these two borrowers.
Cornelius Davis: Becoming a financial coach
Cornelius Davis’ student loan debt was just one part of a larger problem. It represented a $71,000 chunk of $171,000 in consumer debt, including an auto loan, mortgage, and credit cards.
To tackle his student loan debt, Davis cut expenses, consolidated his student loans with SoFi (dropping his rate from 6.50% to 4.60%), and took on as many side hustles as he could find. Some of the job roles he filled include:
- Freelance inspector at a major car company
- Mystery shopper at car dealerships
- Participant for a clinical study on sports drinks
- Author of two books
- Founder of a T-shirt company
Every cent earned from Davis’ 12-to-16-hour workdays went to his debt. He increased his payments from about $800 a month to as much as $3,000.
The side hustles helped Davis pay off his education debt, but they weren’t enough to create a career. That’s where being a financial coach came into play.
About halfway through repayment of his more substantial consumer debt, Davis was inspired to help other people in similar situations.
He received a certification as a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach and is working toward being a certified financial planner. He’s hoping his financial coaching business will be his main hustle by 2019.
“The pathway is definitely what led me to it,” said Davis, who maintains his 9-to-5 job as a financial specialist at a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Reading about debt, finances, and realizing how much of a problem it was — I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t go through that situation.”
Davis estimates that about 60% of his clients are dealing with debt. Hearing his story, he said, goes a long way for them.
Chris Scott: Becoming a credit expert
Chris Scott had about $50,000 in student loans and was looking for his mom to borrow or cosign on more before his senior year at Columbia College Chicago. Scott’s mom refused, so he left school looking to earn some money.
Scott opened a beauty salon and day spa, financed entirely with credit cards. He ended up maxing out his cards. He was denied more financing through a loan because his credit was shot.
Besides his student loan debt, Scott had accumulated about $26,000 in debt on his cards and was facing collections fees.
“It was embarrassing,” Scott said. “I was reaching out to anyone that would listen.”
Instead of waiting for help, Scott helped himself. He bought a credit repair book at Barnes & Noble and spent the next 11 months paying down debt and whipping his credit report into shape.
Soon enough, Scott found salon customers asking for financial advice and credit builder tools. Eventually, he started charging them $100 for a consultation.
Tired of paying rent on his salon space and buying shampoo and conditioner by the crate, Scott saw a new career path.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks … like I can change people’s lives,” said Scott, who now runs Opulent Credit Builders, which is based in Chicago. “I look at this as my mission and also my purpose in life.”
How you can further your job prospects
You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about all the detriments from being in debt. Now consider the benefits — yes, the benefits.
Maybe you have no desire to become a financial coach like Davis or a credit repair expert like Scott. There are plenty of other positions that require similar skills. Perhaps you’ve gotten so handy with spreadsheets while repaying debt that you’re a data analyst in training.
The next time you’re interviewing at a company — or, like Davis and Scott, starting your own — consider ways to leverage your experience as a borrower.
When a hiring manager asks you about where you went to college, use the question as an opportunity to talk about your independence and how you learned hard lessons by putting yourself through school.
Say you’re asked instead about your problem-solving skills during an interview. You could have your debt repayment story ready to share. The same goes for when your potential future boss mentions “challenges” of the position.
“I’m handling my loan repayment,” you might say, “so I can handle anything!”
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate 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 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
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.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.49% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.41%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.11%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|