Important questions to ask when seeking student loan advice
If you’ve finally faced the fact that making choices about dealing with your student loan repayment plan is confusing, perhaps you are ready to seek help. And the Federal reprieve on making payments will end at some point so why not make preparations?
Regardless of the reason, there are many companies claiming a quick fix and offering advice that could do more harm. So before you seek help from anyone, here are some important questions to ask.
Do your research and know as much about where you are getting financial advice.
1. When and where did you receive your financial training?
If you’re dealing with a call center, it’s unlikely you’ll get a suitable answer because they aren’t interested in building a personal relationship. It’s doubtful you’ll get a last night either.
2. When and where did you learn about student loan advising?
The first thing to note is that even CPAs and CFPs don’t have a curriculum in their certifications that cover student loans. It is possible to gain this knowledge through extensive research, and disciplined self study. We know those who’ve done that including many of our own Certified Student Loan Professionals.
3. What type of continuing education keeps you informed about student loans?
See question 2. Visit their website to learn more about their education and training.
4. What type of financial licenses and certifications do you have?
Look for financial service licenses you can verify on FINRA’s broker check. You can also learn if there has been any disciplinary action on the individual. Look for designations such as CPA, CFP, EA, CFA. These certifying bodies and registered investment advisors work in regulated industries with continuing education requirements and ethics codes.
5. How much experience do you have advising clients with student loans?
Success stories and examples of how they have helped clients can be published on websites without disclosing confidential information.
6. Do your services include working with me on my financial goals?
Your financial goals should include student loan repayment planning. Student loans should not be an isolated debt as it impacts your ability to address other areas such as retirement, investments, etc.
7. What type of advice and support can I expect? Do you work remotely?
Working by phone or video conference is becoming more common. It’s important to have face to face communication in financial matters such as this. Find out what type of ongoing consultations are available. Financial plans are meant to be periodically reviewed and this includes student loans.
8. How to your charge for your services?
Clarity is important here. Financial advisors can charge specific consultation fees and other make commissions based on products they sell you. Understand the differences and how these costs impact you. Avoid companies that seek to charge ongoing monthly fees to file paperwork that you can complete and file yourself.
Other points to consider:
- Avoid anyone who appears to be working in a call center
- Do not use a company that claims to solve problems by filing documents on your behalf for a monthly fee
- Avoid companies that charge a monthly fee for filing documents or claiming to get you loan forgiveness. (Financial service providers CAN work on a monthly retainer or annual fee as this is common in the professional financial services industry.
Find a Certified Student Loan Professional Here
The CSLP Directory will provide a variety of professional choices who have invested in learning about how to provide the best possible advice to clients with student debt. You can learn more about the advisors and their individual practices and experience. Visit the directory here.