Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How can I know if it’s safe to work with a particular debt relief - student loan debt consultant
debt relief agency?

I receive many, many emails with this question. And my answer is always the same:

No debt relief agency is truly recommendable, in my opinion. These agencies all offer the same services, as though they were “unique” programs that could only be obtained through their agency. Namely:

  • lower payments
  • a year of forbearance (i.e. $0.00 monthly for 12 months)
  • consolidation for federal student loans
  • student loan forgiveness programs

In truth, any company that wants to charge you to consolidate your loan, or enroll in repayment assistance programs like IBR or Public Student Loan Forgiveness, is not recommendable, or ethical, in my opinion.

Consolidation, as well as all the other government repayment assistance programs, are available for you, free of charge, at studentloans.gov

Debt relief agencies re-sell government repayment assistance programs as though they were the ones offering the programs. But in reality, all they’re doing is inputting your info on studentloans.gov (the only place you could ever consolidate your loans and/or enroll in government repayment assistance programs).

Most borrowers don’t know that these programs are 100% free, and debt relief agencies have taken full advantage of this. Unfortunately, there are countless borrowers who fall prey to their false claims, every day.

No matter how pushy, aggressive or convincing the debt relief salesperson you spoke to is – and even if they are trying to convince you that signing up for repayment assistance programs is “too difficult” to do alone – rest assured, consolidation and repayment assistance programs like IBR are simple to obtain, and completely free, over at studentloans.gov

I hope you don’t fall for any debt relief’s claims, no matter how “different” or special they allege to be. Why pay for government repayment assistance programs, if you needed financial breathing room in the first place!

 

Q: So, you’re not a debt relief agency. What are you then?

Exactly. I am not a debt relief agency, and neither is my private consulting company, Miller Student Loan Consulting, LLC.  I’m a student loan consultant, i.e. a student loan expert, or student loan advisor, that specializes in the both federal and private student loans.

I help borrowers customize their repayment strategies, so they can arrange affordable payments, save on interest and simplify their repayment process.

With my guidance and support, debt repayment is transformed from a headache into a positive investment that student loan borrowers can afford, are in control of and feeling good about. It’s very rewarding work.

 

 

Q: How is what you do different than what debt relief agencies do?

Debt relief agencies offer consolidation and/or income-driven repayment assistance programs as one-size-fits-all, quick-fix solutions to EVERYONE’S student loan debt woes. debt relief - Pic - Student Loan Debt Consultant - Grinning GradAnd they can easily wreck havoc on a borrower’s financial health with their cookie-cutter solutions.

In sharp contrast, I work to benefit each borrower’s financial health, by providing careful, personalized repayment guidance that benefits a borrower’s financial health and unique life circumstances.

Big difference! I’ve worked for 16+ years in the student loan industry, and the financial services industry, combined. This background has given me a unique skills set, where I’m not only familiar with all the regulations, administrative processes and nuances of all types of student loans, but I also have a through understanding of personal finances. (You can read more about my background here.)

I believe that understanding both student loans and personal finance is essential to producing a sound repayment strategy, one that can be woven seamlessly into any borrower’s budget and life.

 

Q. How can you customize student debt repayment strategies? It sounds like financial planning.

As far as I know, no one else in the student loan industry is doing this, since it’s my original, unique approach to student debt repayment (I call my approach “holistic“). The reason I can customize a borrower’s debt repayment strategy is threefold:

A) I thoroughly understand and have extensive experience with all the nuances of private and federal student loans.

B) Student loan lenders offer a much more flexible attitude with you during repayment than, say, credit card lenders, thereby giving you many repayment options to work with.

C) Student loan regulations are so complicated, and so dynamic (i.e. ever-changing), that loopholes are created within the regulations themselves, and when understood properly, can be applied in a beneficial way for any borrower.

I call my repayment strategies, “Student Loan Business Plans.” What I do is not financial planning, but I am able to answer your questions about personal finance, as they pertain to your student debt repayment, if they come up. For example, I understand how community property state laws affect IBR income eligibility. Also, I can teach you about potential tax implications as they pertain to your student loans.

 

Q. Tell me more about my Student Loan Business Plan. What Grinning Grad
does it include?

It’s a plan of action that includes a step-by-step approach of how you ought to go about repaying your student loan debt.

It also includes educational information about different aspects of your loans, your credit and keeping your financial landscape in excellent health.

Your Student Loan Business Plan will show you the best way to pay back your loans, (including how to safely lower your payments and the most interest) and you’ll learn quite a bit about your student loans. The plan empowers you to feel much better about your student debt, because you’ll understand the way this unique type of debt works. 

Lastly, your strategy will differ from standard repayment options offered to you by your lenders and servicers, and, as a result, will always save you money in comparison to paying the way the lenders and servicers want you to.

 

Q. Will you help me carry out my Business Plan? I don’t want to go about this alone! 

Yes, of course.  This is why I offer “memberships,” since your Business Plan often requires time to carry out, and many borrowers experience shifts in the way they want to make their payments over the long run.

For example, we may target a higher interest rate loan first, which will cause the loan to be paid off more quickly. Once that happens, then your payment allocations will change. Or, you may purchase a house, and a car, during the time you are in student debt repayment, thereby changing the amount of income you have available to allocate towards your repayment.

These life events can produce a shift in your financial landscape – hence, requiring some tweaks to your Student Loan Business Plan.

Regardless, I will be here to help you understand and implement these adjustments, as they happen along the way.

Again, your Business Plan is not set in stone — it is based your your situation at the time it is created. So, as life events happen, incomes change, personal debt increases or decrease (credit cards, car loans…etc.) and your personal needs change, we can revise the Business Plan again to accommodate them. Hence why I offer memberships that renew annually, or can be purchased as a “lifetime” option.

I offer family memberships too, since couples, siblings and families often seek my help with their repayment, all at once!