Student loans: expert advice for payment strategy?
January 27, 2014 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Who understands federal student loans the best? I'm looking for someone who knows all of the current rules and options and can (for a fee) go through all of my loans and give me the best plan to pay them off.
posted by cgs to Work & Money (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, I was thinking of either a national chain of financial advice places (like H&R Block), or a certain type of accountant I should look for.
posted by cgs at 9:59 AM on January 27, 2014

I'm not sure a financial advisor is the right person to look for. Maybe a non-profit credit counselor or your school's financial aid office?

You might have success posting your (anonymous) details on Reddit /r/personalfinance. This is a common theme there. is a good resource as well.

Note: H&R Block is not a financial advice chain -- they are a chain that has people prepare tax returns for an inflated cost after less than a month of training and will try to upsell you on predatory refund anticipation loans.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:39 AM on January 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not really answering the question, but two things to look into yourself, right now, are Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The first is very common and the second relevant if you do or might work for Government or a non-profit. Also, keep in mind that many hospital systems are classified as "non-profit."
posted by cnc at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are basically two methods for paying down debt:

Stacking: Ranking the loans from highest interest to lowest interest and paying down the high interest loans first.

Snowball: Ranking your loans from least amount owed to most amount owed, and paying down the lowest one first, then using the freed up payment on that loan to accelerate payment on the second largest loan, etc.

Here's a nice, short article about each method.

Here's a blurb about what Suze Orman thinks, and it has some relevance to your situation.

This is YOUR debt and you need to understand it, and conquer it. I'd think twice and three times about employing an "expert" in this arena. You are capable of doing this yourself. I just don't trust third-party strangers to have my best interests at heart.

I really encourage you to learn a bit about how student loans work, consolidation of student loans and the different kinds of loans (Private vs. Stafford) that you may have.

I'd start with a spreadsheet:

Name of Lender Interest Rate Total Loan Min Payment Term

Once you see it all down in a spreadsheet, you can see what all you have.

I promise, this is something you can do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on January 27, 2014 [8 favorites]

This is something you ask the financial aid office at your institution. It's why they exist.
posted by valkyryn at 1:45 PM on January 27, 2014

"all my loans" -- it definitely sounds like loan consolidation could simplify things for you, if your loans are federal
posted by Jacqueline at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2014

The folks at The Department of Education ( were extremely helpful to me when I had some issues certifying my loans for public service loan forgiveness. The information on the website (and on my loan servicer's website) seemed contradictory with regard to the actual certification form, but all it took was a phone call to the 800-number to clear it up. They are extremely helpful and really good at talking to people who are mildly panicked at the thought of their loan burden.

They won't be able to give you financial planning advice, but they will be able to talk you through your payment options, your forgiveness qualifications, your consolidation options--at least they were for me.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:23 PM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Absolutely seconding crush-onastick.

The bulk of my education debt is in loans held by the Treasury Department, and when I called them, they cleared quite a bit up. I originally thought I was ineligible for an income-based repayment plan, but one of their customer service reps demonstrated that I was - and I was recently approved for just such a plan, making saving exponentially easier while still paying down my debt (i.e. not using up precious forbearance time).
posted by sidi hamet at 5:31 PM on January 27, 2014

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