Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
* * *
After you’ve determined that you need to enlist the help of a certified financial professional, you could get lost in a sea of expensive options. It can be difficult to know where to find free financial help.
A good way to find free financial consulting services is to look for nonprofit agencies. They’re funded by grants and tend to provide resources for no or lower fees, unlike for-profit groups.
There are also some ways to get free financial services with the help of your community.
Here are four such resources, online and off.
If you’re looking for in-person and free financial planning assistance near you, research Financial Planning Day programs. Some certified financial planners volunteer their time and services through speeches and one-on-one counseling on issues such as:
- Creating and maintaining a budget
- Managing credit and debt
The counselors cover a host of other topics, as well. The event isn’t held on one day only, but on many days throughout the year that best fit the local community.
Find an event near you by visiting the World Financial Planning Day website or contacting your regional financial planners association.
|What would be included in free financial planning assistance? Check out…|
|Real-Life Advice Financial Planners Give Their Clients About Student Debt|
The Financial Planning Day initiative is growing but isn’t available in every state yet. But there are plenty of national agencies that may provide free financial services near you.
- The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offers assistance on a variety of issues from credit and mortgages to creating a debt management plan. The NFCC is the largest financial counseling organization in the country, operating nationally, and has specialists providing help specifically for your needs.
- The American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) offers free counseling, debt management programs or assistance in paying off credit cards. The agency helps everyone from young adults trying to pay for college to retirees trying to navigate health care issues and independent living. The ACCC operates nationwide, but depending on where you live, there might be different services available.
- The Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) provides financial assistance free of charge for people in need. The organization pairs you up with volunteer financial planners to offer help based on your situation. The group provides grants to communities across the country to reach underserved families. It has provided grants in 38 states, and you can check if your state has a recipient of its grants. The FFP also has national programs targeted to help military members and people with cancer.
- Credit.org offers financial education and housing assistance. Some services, like credit and debt counseling, are free. But debt management plans could cost money.
|Struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the economy?|
|Some fee-based financial advisor groups, such as the XY Planning Network, are offering free financial planning services. You can also explore our COVID-19 information page for more resources.|
Sometimes, national organizations work with local groups to offer free financial planning and counseling.
Try seeking local community help from your…
- Bank or credit union
- Online brokerage or robo-advisor
- College or university campus
- Military base
- Faith-based organization
Just remember that if you seek financial advice as a customer, the advice you receive isn’t 100% objective. At your local financial institution, for example, a banker might tailor their advice to products, nudging you to open a new account or card.
Once you find a worthwhile source of free financial help, ask specific questions, including:
- What services are offered?
- Can you help me make a financial plan?
- Will there be any fees down the road?
Try to find a certified financial advisor or financial planner or certified credit counselors, and ask to see their accreditations before working with them.
Reading about personal finance isn’t the most exciting online pastime, but there’s a wealth of helpful information about handling money – and it’s typically free.
As you’re searching for free financial help online, be wary of websites that aren’t transparent about their sources of information and expertise.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already found the Student Loan Hero blog, led by certified student loan counselors. Search above and to the right for personal finance topics that are troublesome for you, and check out our guides.
For more free financial help, check out our picks for…
- Free personal finance courses
- Best personal finance podcasts
- Most helpful personal finance books (free via your local library)
- Top personal finance accounts on Instagram
If you’re struggling to make ends meet and can’t find a way to get on track on your own, there is help available from a variety of sources.
Financial advisors can help you make important money choices. If you’re behind on bills, you might want to look for a credit counseling or debt management service to get you on track.
While some agencies charge money, others might offer free or discounted services.
And if you’re seeking help specific to higher education costs, consider these resources:
- 5 People to Ask for Free Advice on Paying for College
- 6 People to Ask for Advice on Student Loan Repayment
- Free Student Loan Help For 5 Major Predicaments
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2021!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|5.99% – 18.85%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|6.46% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.94% – 35.97%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|99.00% – 199.00%2||$500 - $4,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%3||$5,000 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 29.99%4||$7,500 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 20.88%5||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%6||$2,000 - $36,500|
|10.68% – 35.89%7||$1,000 - $40,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.
Direct Deposit required for payroll.
Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.
Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.