When I founded Student Loan Planner in September 2016, I did so for 3 reasons:
- My then girlfriend (now wife) received awful advice about her medical school loans that cost us tens of thousands of dollars. Sadly, I could not find any professionals out there that could have prevented our mistakes.
- I had blogged about personal finance unsuccessfully for about a year and a half and found the student loan content I did was catching fire. The original version of our free student loan calculator got viewed a half million times and a bunch of people with six figure debts reached out asking for help.
- I had “retired” as a bond trader and was looking for something exciting to do to help others.
How Student Loan Planner Started with Content
You’ll notice I had no business plan. I didn’t do a strategic analysis of the market need and competition. I also didn’t pitch VCs. It started out as just yours truly trying to do something to help borrowers deal with a broken student loan system.
At first, I churned out blog content like “Veterinarians Are Treated Horribly Under Student Loan Rules” and “Dentists are the Number 1 Job for Student Debt.”
I seemed to strike a chord. I wrote even more articles to address the unique student loan pains in each profession.
Back in 2016, I promoted one of my veterinarian posts about how vets get treated poorly under student loan rules. With an ad budget of a few hundred bucks, that article got over 20,000 views.
Readers reached out and told me their schools didn’t tell them how much debt they would graduate with. They complained about financial aid departments eager to sign them up for debt without helping them understand the consequences. Others just contacted me to say thank you for sharing their stories.
A more informed person would call this “lead generation.”
I didn’t fully understand what I was doing at the time (I had no pixels installed, no tracking, no email capture, nothing), but I knew that I needed to keep writing and creating new tools and articles to reflect the financial pain I was hearing.
Scaling Student Loan Planning
The last time I discussed how much debt Student Loan Planner had advised, we had just passed $100 million “under management” with a little over 300 clients.
As of June 2020, we have now advised over $1 billion in student debt with over 4,000 clients across the country.
That number only includes student loan borrowers who have hired us to make a 1 on 1 plan for themselves and their families.
We have also helped millions of student loan borrowers for free through our Student Loan Planner podcast, our blog, and the tens of thousands of emails we get every year.
In addition to myself, Student Loan Planner’s team now includes five other consultants, all of whom hold either the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), or Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP®) designations.
Initially, I made every plan for Student Loan Planner. Then, I realized I couldn’t go on doing 10 plans a day and needed to hire help.
I found our first consultant Rob at my co-working space. Then I brought on Lauryn and then Justin in 2018.
In 2019, we added Meagan and Ben to bring our consultant team up to 6 total.
In addition to our consultants, Student Loan Planner has a team of writers, PR pros, website gurus, a business manager, editorial team, and even a YouTube editor.
There’s a lot of people now besides just me dedicated to our mission of eliminating student loan anxiety.
We now have the capacity to create a couple hundred plans per month. Most months we have averaged around 100 to 150 plans.
To my surprise, borrowers have continued to book plans during the CARES Act forbearance. Clearly, professionals with a lot of debt know that they need a long term plan.
Unfortunately, the existing sources of financial advice have been unable to provide them the information they need.
Student Debt by Profession
About half of our student loan planning has been for dentists, physicians, and veterinarians.
These three professions have four years of training required after undergrad. In some cases, these professions require or encourage postgraduate training as well.
No wonder student debt is such a problem with these professions in particular.
That said, we could not have gotten to $1 billion of student loans advised without helping a large number of professions.
In addition to some of the example professions listed below, we’ve helped cantorists, air traffic controllers, engineers, and other jobs you would never expect would come with huge student debt.
Of course, we tend to get more extreme cases than average. Even though most nurses owe a mid five figure amount, there are a lot of nurses who owe $150,000 in student debt or more from attending accelerated nursing programs at private schools.
We get calls from the nurses with the biggest debts and the ones with $30,000 likely just read out articles about nursing student loan forgiveness.
The average debt numbers below should therefore not be construed as true averages. However, it does show the extent of the student debt out there and what you could end up with just because you decided to pursue a higher degree.
Core Belief: Student Debt Should Never Hold You Back
One of Student Loan Planner’s core beliefs is that you should never put your dreams on hold because of your debt. Whether you want to buy a house, get married, or have a child, you can do all those things and more.
You can pay off your student loans and still have the life you want.
The worst case scenario is your debt is nothing worse than a tax. That’s something I want all Americans to know.
Student debt can feel like a prison though. You might feel trapped and that all your goals are on hold.
We advised $1 billion in student debt in large part because we’re also the highest rated company in the student loan industry.
Unlike a lot of the scammy student loan forgiveness groups out there, we don’t over promise or just fill out paperwork for clients.
Psychologically, we make sure that you have a long term plan that makes student loans a non issue for your long term future.
Mathematically, we also make sure you’re paying as little interest and payments as possible so more money can go towards funding your goals and dreams.
I’m excited we’ve passed the milestone of having advised $1 billion of student loans.
To thank you and our community, we’re announcing our third annual student loan borrower scholarship.
Here’s to the next $1 billion, as long as it doesn’t all get forgiven. Then I’ll move onto the next problem.
Until that happens, I’m proud Student Loan Planner will continue to help borrowers for a long time to come.