Student Loan Advice: Find Nonprofit Credit Advice Near You

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Note that the student loan situation has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the relief efforts of the government, student lenders and others. Check out our Student Loans Hero Coronavirus Information Center for news and additional details.

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There are many scam companies that promise to magically erase your student loan debt. But, spoiler alert: they can’t.

The whole point of nonprofit credit counseling near you, however, is to really help borrowers. So here are three potential sources of free or low-cost student loan advice that are definitely worth your money:

1. The National Federation of Credit Counseling (NFCC)
2. American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)
3. Credit.org

More: How to Choose a Nonprofit Credit Counselor Near You

1. The National Federation of Credit Counseling (NFCC)

The NFCC is a network of dozens of nonprofit credit counseling agencies in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. While the member agencies are unique, each offers the same level of free student loan advice and support.

“The idea is to offer a holistic assessment of a consumer’s student loan repayment options,” Matt Ribe, general counsel and general secretary of the NFCC, told Student Loan Hero. “But to do it in the context of their larger financial situation – so understand what their financial goals are, as well as what their obligations and constraints are.”

According to Ribe, counseling sessions typically cover:

  • Which loan repayment plans are best for you
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the different strategies
  • How repayment can match your other financial goals

To find an NFCC Certified Student Loan Advisor, you can either enter your zip code into the NFCC agency locator or visit StudentLoanHelp.org. The latter route, Ribe explained, requires you to create a financial profile, allowing advisors to dive right into your situation – instead of spending time collecting data.

You can then contact an advisor immediately or make an appointment for later. Most charge between $ 50 and $ 200 per session and promise that you’ll come away with a full game plan to pay off your student loans.

If that cost seems out of reach, don’t despair. Since the NFCC and its member agencies are non-profit, Ribe noted that they can’t deny you services because you can’t pay. So fill in your details, and if an agency determines that you can’t afford their services, they’ll work with you for a fair price – which sometimes will be nothing.

“We take great pride in the service,” said Ribe. “And we hope as many people will benefit from it as possible.”

2. American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)

If you’re looking for more than free student loan advice, you can call an NFCC member directly. ACCC is a national nonprofit organization that provides a free budget and consultation before you set up a debt management program that could get your repayment back on track.

ACCC advisors may also help you assess your eligibility or suitability for …

Keep in mind that these are all things you can do on your own and without opening your wallet. Still, working with a credit or student loan counselor could make sure you’re making the right decision.

And by working with a nonprofit like ACCC, you’ll make sure you don’t have to open your wallet very large. If you go for a debt management plan with ACCC, for example, you would be subject to a $ 39 registration fee which could be reduced or waived depending on your circumstances.

3. Credit.org

Speaking of NFCC approved nonprofit credit counseling near you – at least virtually speaking – Credit.org might be a better choice if you have non-student loan debt or trying to improve your credit score. credit. The independent organization’s debt coaches provide clients with free analysis, helping you make choices like debt consolidation or debt management or even settlement.

Unfortunately, Credit.org does not offer a free student loan advance: the standard fee for a loan review is $ 125, but many other Credit.org services, including credit counseling, will not cost. one cent.

Credit.org also sets itself apart from other nonprofits with its suite of free online tools, including:

  • Personal finance lessons and how-to videos
  • Virtual workshops, seminars and other events
  • Financial calculators for budgeting, savings and other goals

How to Choose a Nonprofit Credit Counselor Near You

Free advice on student loans is not hard to find, but good advice on student loans can be hard to find.

To make sure you don’t fall prey to shoddy advice or, worse, a scam, rely on NFCC member organizations as a place to start. Agencies like ACCC and Credit.org have a proven track record.

However, not all nonprofits were created equal, so find out about their certifications and fees before signing up. You can also avoid counseling agencies that have racked up complaints by checking with your state’s attorney general or consumer protection office.

If you’re looking for nonprofit credit counseling near you but can’t find anything, ask your bank or credit union if they offer such services. Your financial institution is just one of many places that offer potentially useful advice on paying off student loans.

André Pentis contributed to this report.

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