Student Loan Planner Reviews: Honest Opinions from Three Former Clients

I see many physicians with questions about what to do with their student loans.

Are we in the right repayment plan? Will we qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Should we use PAYE or RePAYE? Does it make sense to refinance? Is there a role for a student loan planner?

When I’m asked directly, I give an honest answer, which is usually a form of “I don’t know.” With the many different types of public and private student loans, the myriad repayment plans, and government making everything clear as mud while often doling out bad advice, there are not many subject matter experts out there.

Last year, I started a series of student loan case studies, and my friend DMFA proved to us just how complicated the answer to a seemingly simple question can be. While he gave some extremely valuable and free advice to the case study subjects, a majority of my readers were less interested in the answers, so the series ended after we helped nine of you.

I would like to see more people making financially sound choices with their student loan balance management. It’s easy to make a costly mistake if you don’t know the ins and outs of your many options.

Student Loan Planner is an educational website and student loan consulting business that has now created plans for over 2,500 clients, and they claim to have saved them over $120 million.

I reached out to the now 17,000+ physician members of my Physicians on FIRE Facebook group, looking for honest feedback, good or bad, from a few doctors who had received a consult from Student Loan Planner.

Each of the three physicians who volunteered answered the same list of questions, and I’m reading them for the first time as I format the text for the publication of this post a few hours before it goes live. Volunteers, thank you for your time!

 

Student Loan Planner Reviews: Honest Opinions from Three Former Clients

 

Student Loan Planner Review #1: Chad

 

How did you decide to work with Student Loan Planner for a student loan consult?

I was in practice my first-year post-fellowship and was on a 10 year payoff at a low interest rate thanks to SoFi’s refinancing of my federal student loans.  We had to decide what to do with my wife’s loans as she was doing IBR throughout residency and fellowship (5 years) and was settling into her first attending position.

Keep going with hope of forgiveness or refinance? If we kept going, which repayment plan was best for us?  And how should we file taxes, married jointly or separately?

Many questions to answer and felt paying a flat fee to get answers was warranted, as our “financial advisor” was not up to date on this information.  We decided to meet with him after our accountant in spring 2018 completed our taxes married jointly and separately, so we had both adjusted gross incomes and could include the tax component to the consult.

 

Who was your consultant? Travis Hornsby or one of his associates?

Travis.

 

Approximately how much did you owe in student loans when you approached Student Loan Planner?

I owed about $260,000.  My wife owed $312,000.  Both largely US medical school debt.

 

Was your plan for an individual or as a couple?

Mainly as a couple as he took into account both our financial situations, but since I had already refinanced my loans, the analysis was for my wife.

 

Were you pleased with the plan your consultant prepared for you?

Yes.  He was able to provide for us a detailed analysis in Excel showing the remaining balance of our student loans with PSLF along with what our cost of paying the loans was, as well as estimated monthly payments for the various PSLF repayment strategies as well as standard 10 year repayment.

Also, armed with our tax information for the year we were able to get advice on how to file taxes, which at that time favored filing separately (we now file jointly).

 

Learn how to better manage your student loan debt, and explore refinancing to a lower rate with cash back offers! Student Loan Resource Page

 

Are you pursuing a loan forgiveness program? Did you refinance?

I refinanced prior to meeting Travis; my wife is pursuing loan forgiveness.  He did advise I potentially shop around for even better interest rates on a 5 year loan versus my 10 year loan with SoFi, but I was very happy with my experience with SoFi and elected not to look further, though with declining interest rates over the last two years I will probably look into again.

 

Do you have an estimate as to how much you’ll save over the lifetime of your loans as a result of your plan? How was that calculated?

Based on the information we provided Travis, using PSLF we would pay approximately 60k and have approximately 316k forgiven.

I provided our spreadsheet so you can see how this was calculated.

 

Student Loan Calculator

 

Was the student loan consult worth the money to you? Would you recommend the service to your friends?

 

We felt the $595 fee was well worth the money.  He was tremendously helpful and gave on-target general financial advice such as getting rid of our whole life policies, which was on my mind after reading WCI and PoF blogs.

He was available to us via email for a year should any questions arise.  I would certainly recommend him to those who, like us, had a significant amount of debt and was pondering PSLF and repayment options.

We fired our insurance-based financial advisor thanks to his advice and WCI/PoF education.  While my wife’s loans accrue interest, we hope they will be forgiven in a few years, and we save aggressively just in case the program does not exist.  I am down to 200k on my refinanced loans.

 

Student Loan Planner Review #2: Steve

 

How did you decide to work with Student Loan Planner for a student loan consult?

I met Travis through his now-wife, who I knew when we were in residency in Philadelphia. After we moved, I continued to follow his company. I wanted to make sure that we were on the right path to pay off our loans and I felt confident that he was educated on the subject and would provide valuable input regarding our loans.

 

Who was your consultant? Travis Hornsby or one of his associates?

Travis.

 

Approximately how much did  you owe in student loans when you approached Student Loan Planner?

$384,000 – my med school debt.

$228,000 – wife’s pharmacy school debt.

 

Was your plan for an individual or as a couple?

As a couple.

 

Were you pleased with the plan your consultant prepared for you?

Very happy! Travis spent a lot of time going over our options and I felt confident with the plan he prepared. After the phone consult, he spent a lot of time communicating with me as well as several companies in an effort to get us the best rate. He was able to negotiate our rates between companies to get us the best rate with the best loan features.

 

Are you pursuing a loan forgiveness program? Did you refinance?

We both refinanced.

 

Do you have an estimate as to how much you’ll save over the lifetime of your loans as a result of your plan? How was that calculated?

We estimated a savings of at least $35,000 for my loans and $24,000 for my wife’s loans. Travis created a spreadsheet (I’m sure you’re surprised by this) calculating interest cost over the life of the loans in both a fixed rate and rising rate environment.

I had already refinanced my loans previously from the 6.8% and 8.5% rates I had in med school, but we both decreased our interest rates by ~2% after refinancing with Student Loan Planner.

We have both been able to refinance our loans with First Republic after working with Travis, further decreasing our interest rates and increasing our savings!

 

Was the student loan consult worth the money to you? Would you recommend the service to your friends?

Absolutely! We worked with Travis in late 2016 so the $200 was an easy decision. I have referred other friends to his calculator for simple questions and others recommended setting up a consultation to make sure they were making an informed decision.

 

Any final comments?

I couldn’t recommend Student Loan Planner more strongly. With the team that Travis has put together, you are getting expert advice on student loans that few can match.

Even if they determine you are on the best repayment plan, I think it’s worth it for the piece of mind. If you’re not, you may be able to save a lot of money. I know I’m happy to be able to use an extra $60k towards something that isn’t our student loans!

 

Before we move on to Review #3, take a look at the latest refinancing rates, which are currently under 2% for variable rates with a number of our refinancing partners (at the time this post is published).

$500 Cashback Bonus Variable rates 1.99% - 6.89% Fixed rates 3.45% - 6.99%
$300 Cashback Bonus Variable rates 2.31% to 7.36% Fixed rates 3.46% to 7.36%
$550 Cashback Bonus for loans >$75K. $300 for loans between $40K-$74K. Variable rates 2.02% – 6.30% Fixed rates 3.21% – 6.45%
 
$300 Cashback Bonus Variable rates 1.99%-6.65% Fixed rates 3.50%—7.02%  
   
$350 Cashback Bonus Variable rates 2.39% – 6.01% Fixed rates 3.14% – 6.69%
$750 Cashback Bonus for >$150k loan and $300 <150K loan Variable rates 1.90% - 8.65% Fixed rates 3.49% - 7.75%
$750 Cashback Bonus for >$100K loan and $400 <$100K loan. Variable rates 2.21%-9.72% Fixed rates 3.14%-9.99%
$300 Cashback Bonus Fixed 1.95%-3.45% Must live near a bank branch (in CA, FL, NY, MA, CT, OR)
$500 Cashback Bonus for >$100K loan (Available for first time customers only.) Variable rates 2.25%-7.41% Fixed rates 3.48%-7.02%

Student Loan Planner Review #3: Vic

 

How did you decide to work with Student Loan Planner for a student loan consult?

We decided to look into student loan planning during the last few months of my fellowship. My wife did most of the reading, vetting, and communication with Travis.

 

Who was your consultant? Travis Hornsby or one of his associates?

This was in 2017, SLP was just starting, so we had Travis help with the planning. I do not know if he had associates at that time.

 

Approximately how much did you owe in student loans when you approached Student Loan Planner?

About $204,000 including the accrued interest rate.

 

Was your plan for an individual or as a couple?

Planned as an individual. My wife is an MD but a foreign graduate (no student loans) and has decided to stay at home with the kids. But most of the financial planning was done by her.

 

Were you pleased with the plan your consultant prepared for you?

Yes. Looking back, it seems like it was simple enough that we may not have needed a planner, but then again there were plenty of things that were laid down on the table for us to consider.

 

 

Are you pursuing a loan forgiveness program?

Yes, we are on year 6 of payments. When we did the SLP consult, we only had about 30% ($60K) of our loans forgivable. We decided to let it remain and see whether it actually works.

 

Did you refinance?

We refinanced 70% of the total loans. We have refinanced our initial refi to a variable rate this year.

[PoF: SoFi offers now offers variable rates as low as 1.81%, a rate I know some of my readers have recently gotten.]

 

Do you have an estimate as to how much you’ll save over the lifetime of your loans as a result of your plan? How was that calculated?

There was a calculator provided by Travis. The savings ranged from – $8,000 for one with PSLF to + $40,000 with the hypothetical Trump plan. With the standard 10 year repayment, we would save about $70,000 in loans vs the refi/PSLF combination we currently have.

 

Was the student loan consult worth the money to you? Would you recommend the service to your friends? Any final comments?

It was worth it for us. Travis was very helpful and was able to answer most of our inquiries. I would recommend it to most students looking to plan for student loan payments.

He helped us navigate the websites and had scripts for what to ask and say to the student loan call center/customer service so we can get all the information we needed.

 

A Review of the Reviews

 

I’m happy and relieved to see that the reviews were all positive. I honestly expected that to be the case, but you never know. People who are unhappy with their experiences tend to be very vocal and quick to volunteer an opinion if they feel slighted.

While I would have published a negative review if I’d have received one, I didn’t expect I would be faced with that decision. I’ve known Travis Hornsby, the founder of Student Loan Planner, for several years now, and he’s been very helpful to me as we’ve grown our sites and reach simultaneously.

The online ratings from Shopper Approved are similarly positive, with nearly 96% of 243 reviewers leaving a 5-star review.

 

Student Loan Planner Review

 

Given his intellect, attention to detail, and genuine interest in helping others, I am not surprised that Travis has had very few dissatisfied clients.

A former Vanguard bond trader with a sharp mind and wit, he started this business after helping his wife and her friends best manage their own huge student loan balances. The spreadsheets he made and late nights he spent learning the nuances of the many different loan types and repayment options have led to a rapidly growing business.

If you’re not 100% sure you’ve got the optimal plan to manage your own student loan balance, consider a consult from Student Loan Planner. Spending a few hundred dollars to save many thousands is an investment worth making 11 times out of 10.

 

Visit Student Loan Planner

 

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Have you had a consult with Student Loan Planner or someone else? How was your experience? Have you made any costly mistakes in managing your own student loans?

 

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