4 Places to Look for Free Financial Help

 September 18, 2020
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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.

1. Attend a Financial Planning Day
2. Consider a credit counseling agency
3. Lean on local resources
4. Don’t forget free financial help found online
Plus: Seek free financial help if you need it

1. Attend a Financial Planning Day

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
  • Investing
  • Retirement

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

2. Consider a credit counseling agency

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.

3. Lean on local resources

Sometimes, national organizations work with local groups to offer free financial planning and counseling.

Try seeking local community help from your…

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.

4. Don’t forget free financial help found online

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…

Seek free financial help if you need it

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:

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2021!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
4.99% – 19.63%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

4.37% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

5.94% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 20.88%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%7$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

For when we advertise static headline rates w/ all discount (i.e. autopay and money bundle) (NON PQ RATE):

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR include a 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 11/2/2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Additional state restrictions may apply. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Autopay Discount: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings, checking, or other account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings, checking, or SoFi Money account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To qualify for an additional 0.25% APR direct deposit discount you must: (1) set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND (2) setup payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan. If you do not set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND set up payroll direct deposits to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan you will not be qualified for this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount. Once qualified, you will receive this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount during periods in which you have direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo turned on with your SoFi Money account.  This additional direct deposit discount will be lost during periods in which you have turned off direct deposits for your SoFi Money account. You are not required to enroll in autopay or direct deposits to receive a loan from SoFi. The Direct Deposit Rate Reduction excludes members from receiving the $100 SoFi Money® direct deposit promotional program. SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Neither SoFi nor its affiliates are a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.

For API partners when we return pre-qual offers only with all discounts (i.e. autopay and money bundle) plus direct payoff discount for those borrowers who select credit card payoff:

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR include a 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 11/2/2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Additional state restrictions may apply. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings, checking, or SoFi Money account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To qualify for an additional 0.25% APR direct deposit discount you must: (1) set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND (2) setup payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan. If you do not set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND set up payroll direct deposits to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan you will not be qualified for this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount. Once qualified, you will receive this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount during periods in which you have direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo turned on with your SoFi Money account.  This additional direct deposit discount will be lost during periods in which you have turned off direct deposits for your SoFi Money account. You are not required to enroll in autopay or direct deposits to receive a loan. The Direct Deposit Rate Reduction excludes members from receiving the $100 SoFi Money® direct deposit promotional program. SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.Neither SoFi nor its affiliates are a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. If you selected credit card payoff as your loan purpose then your pre-qualified rate also includes a potential additional 0.25% Direct Pay discount. To secure this discount, you will need to select Direct Pay as an option to pay off your credit card and apply 50% or more of your loan proceeds directly to your creditors.


2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

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.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5. Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

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.


7 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*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/.