With Travis on paternity leave, the consultants are taking over the Student Loan Planner Podcast. This week, all four consultants come together to talk about their student loan planning expertise.
They’re sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly in hopes that you’ll learn something to help you in your situation with student loans and your personal finances.
Who are the Student Loan Planner consultants?
With Travis out of the office, you’re going to hear from the consultants quite a bit over the next few weeks.
Here’s a quick introduction of the team:
- Rob Bertman, CFA, CFP®, has been with Student Loan Planner the longest and has done over 850 consults. He’s also the founder of Family Budget Expert, where he helps families stop arguing about money.
- Lauryn Williams, CFP®, CSLP®, has done over 600 consults with Student Loan Planner. She’s a 4x Olympian and is the founder of Worth Winning, where she helps borrowers figure out student loan debt and set financial goals. She’s also the voice behind her podcast, Worth Listening.
- Justin Harvey, CFP®, has advised over 550 student loan borrowers. He also founded APM Wealth, a financial firm specializing in wealth financial planning and investments for anesthesiologists and pain management doctors.
- Meagan Landress, CSLP®, has worked with almost 400 borrowers. In addition to her work at Student Loan Planner, she also has a financial coaching practice, Financial Coach Meagan, where she helps people establish foundational areas of financial planning like cash flow, budgeting, debt reduction, and building savings.
Between the four planners, they’ve done more than 2,400 consults. When you’ve talked to as many borrowers as they have, you’re bound to have some good experience and some bad.
“You have some where you really knock it out of the park, and you have some where you see some really tough situations,” said Harvey. “We do our best to leave people better off than when they found us.”
But, as you know, student loans are a significant problem in this country, and there are some very desperate cases.
Rob Bertman on making a career change with student loans
“The best consult I had recently was with a veterinarian who was considering a career change,” said Bertman. Being a veterinarian is difficult work and comes with some of the highest debt-to-income ratios for student loan borrowing.
She wasn’t sure if changing careers was possible because of her significant student loan debt. It’s a common concern.
“A lot of times, people feel like they have to make their career choices around their student loan situation,” said Bertman.
“With student loan rules the way that they are, you can actually pick your life – the life that you want to live and the career you want to lead – and design a student loan plan around that.”
She was relieved to understand how it was possible to make a career move with student loans because the change would be much better for her mental health.
Lauryn Williams and the importance of getting customized advice
One of Williams’ most difficult experiences was with a young lady looking for clarity on signing up for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). “We get a lot of calls – a lot of people are very interested in knowing more about public service,” said Williams.
This client worked for a non-profit and assumed PSLF was available to her. However, a few weeks before booking the call, a friend told her about getting a lower interest rate by refinancing her student loans. The friend’s advice was, “You should get a better interest rate, too, because that’s how you save money on your student loan debt.”
But when she refinanced her loans, she left the federal system. “Her loans that were federal and previously qualified for Public service Loan Forgiveness were now private loans,” said Williams.
“It isn’t easy to explain that you now have private loans, and your only option is to pay those loans back, especially when Public Service Loan Forgiveness was going to offer a ton of savings.”
Williams stresses the importance of getting a customized plan for your student loans: “Refinancing may have been right for her friend, but it was not appropriate for her.”
Justin Harvey on keeping your options open
A lot of Student Loan Planner clients are fresh out of school. While you can have a plan for your life, as you grow older, you realize that life doesn’t always go the way you thought it would.
It’s hard to know exactly where your career is going to take you.
For example, Harvey spoke with an anesthesia resident about his career goals. “He said definitely a pain fellowship and probably private practice,” said Harvey.
But he was in his first year. “He probably had no idea what his subspecialization was going to be or what his odds of private practice vs. academic were going to be.”
That’s why it’s essential to keep your options open. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of that,” said Harvey.
Meagan Landress on student loans and taxes
Marital status and taxes can have an enormous impact on your student loan plan. It gets even more complicated when borrowers are married and living in a community property state.
“I am convinced that anyone who lives in a community property state, and they’re married, should have a consult with us,” said Landress.
In a community property state, filing your taxes as married filing jointly or married filing separately is possible. But if you’re pursuing forgiveness, the way you file separately can either hurt you or help you.
“It has a big impact on what your payments are going to be and your loan trajectory over time,” said Landress.
Every student loan situation is unique
Student loans are an all-consuming burden for a significant number of borrowers. “It can be hard to deal with mentally,” said Harvey. “People delay relationships, people delay having kids – there are literal real-life implications to a significant student loan burden.”
If you’re wondering if Student Loan Planner is the “real deal” and whether you can trust the consultants, read the reviews to see testimonials from people whose lives were changed after the consult.
And if you’re ready to get clarity for your student loan, book a consult with Meagan, Lauryn, Justin, and Rob and see how having the right plan can change your life, too.