Student Consulting Group, Inc. operates at FixMyStudentLoan.com. As you can guess from the website name, the company is aimed at helping student loan borrowers either make their monthly payments more affordable, or helping them get out of default.
Student Consulting Group is located in Georgia, though there’s no physical address listed – only a PO Box. When looking at the “About” page, you’re introduced to its three founders who have “extensive experience in all aspects of the student loan industry.” According to Georgia business records, the company formed in 2012 and has been active since.
While it sounds like Student Consulting Group is out to help recent graduates make life more affordable, we advise you evaluate its offerings with a critical eye.
[Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief Scams]
Services Offered by Student Consulting Group
The services Student Consulting Group offers are mostly related to getting out of default, along with making monthly payments more manageable. Let’s take a look at each claim and the reality of what you could do yourself.
Offer: Put an end to administrative wage garnishment in as little as 8 weeks
Reality: When you default on your federal student loans, the government is entitled to garnish your wages. This means they use your wages as payment toward your loan.
Offer: Stop Federal tax offsets so you can receive your tax return
Reality: Similar to the above, the government can seize your tax return as payment toward your defaulted student loan. Both occur only if you voluntarily refuse to make payments on your loans. If you’re not in default yet, this can be avoided by getting in touch with your student loan servicer and working out a repayment agreement.
If you have defaulted on your loans, and your wages are being garnished, the best solution is to consolidate your Federal loans, as that will get you out of default.
Offer: Remove the default status from your Federal Student Loans to begin rebuilding your credit now
Reality: If you have defaulted on your Federal student loans, you can go through a rehabilitation program to get out of default. It’s a lengthy process (you must make 9 consecutive, agreed upon payments), but at the end, the default is removed from your credit report.
Offer: Lead you to eligible loan forgiveness programs
Reality: All available loan forgiveness programs are listed on the studentaid.ed.gov website. Many of them have special requirements that need to be met, but you don’t need to pay a company for this service when you can do the research yourself.
Offer: Restore your Title IV financial aid eligibility and benefits
Reality: Again, when you default on your Federal student loans, you aren’t eligible for any further financial aid. Once you get out of default, your eligibility is restored.
Offer: Stop harassing and embarrassing collection agency calls
Reality: When you default on your loans, the U.S. Department of Education’s Default Resolution Group takes over (with Perkins loans as an exception). You can get in contact with them easily. If you don’t, then an outside collection agency may be assigned to your loans, but all agencies are listed here on the myeddebt.com website.
Offer: Consolidate all of your Federal student loans into one easy payment
Reality: You can consolidate eligible Federal student loans into one loan via the Direct Consolidation Loan. This can be done, for free, at studentloans.gov.
Offer: Lower your payments, in some cases to as low as $5 – $25!
Reality: This comes with a footnote that says, “Certain qualifying conditions apply. All candidates may not qualify.” You can lower your payments, for free, by switching to one of the many income-driven repayment plans offered through the U.S. Department of Education. This can be done by calling your student loan servicer. They’ll be able to recommend which repayment plan may be best for you.
Offer: Get flexible repayment options
Reality: Again, these repayment options are available to anyone who has a Federal student loan. You don’t need a third-party service to enroll you in a different payment program.
Offer: Have your Federal student loan rights such as deferment and forbearance restored
Reality: Unfortunately, as you can see, defaulting on your Federal student loans means forfeiting most of the benefits that come with them. A majority of these solutions can be brought about by simply getting your student loans out of default, which can be done on your own through loan rehabilitation, or by consolidating your Federal student loans with Direct Consolidation.
The Disclaimer – Yes, You Can Do This For Free
We’re glad to see “Can I do this myself for free?” answered with a “Yes” under the FAQ section. However, it goes on to say, “You can also represent yourself in a court of law or prepare your own tax return.” Comparing those two things to applying for consolidation, changing your repayment plan, or getting out of default comes across as a scare tactic.
Many companies offering to help students get out of a bad situation with their student loan debt are trying to make the process look much more difficult than it actually is. They’re trying to convince you that you need their help and “expertise” to apply for these programs.
That’s not true. Your student loan servicer should be able to help you with all of this, at no cost. There are only a handful of Federal student loan servicers out there (Nelnet, Great Lakes, Navient, MOHELA, among others). Each is very familiar with the student loan landscape and they are authorized to make changes to your student loans.
A third-party company doesn’t have the same relationship. While there’s no explicit mention of it on this website, some companies will ask for your FAFSA pin number to make changes to your student loans. This is highly-sensitive information that shouldn’t be given out so freely.
How simple is the process?
To make changes to your repayment plan, you should be able to access the option from your account online. For example, on Great Lakes, you can choose “my repayment plan,” and then “income-driven & standard repayment plans.” You’re brought to a page that asks what options you’re considering. Depending on which option you choose, you can “learn more and apply” right then and there, or check your eligibility.
To apply to consolidate your Federal loans, you need to go through a five-step application process on studentloans.gov. According to the site, it takes around 30 minutes to complete the application. Is 30 minutes really worth enough to you that you’d pay someone to enroll you in the program?
Lastly, getting out of default is the lengthiest process, and this does vary depending on circumstance. There are several steps you can take to get your loan back in repayment status, which include consolidating or going through a loan rehabilitation program.
How the Process Works
There are four options you can use to contact Student Consulting Group. You can fill out a form on the website under “Get started today,” you can call, you can email customer service, or you can use the chat function (after entering in your information).
As with other similar companies, you’re encouraged to call. If you do, be wary. Don’t accept any offers or agreements on the spot without researching your options. Take down the names of the people you speak with, as well as what was said.
Your best route is to email as you won’t have to hand your phone number over.
There is little to no information on the website about the actual process you’ll go through once speaking with a representative. There’s mention of a “100% Service Guarantee,” but there’s no details on what that gets you. It only claims to let borrowers know if they qualify upfront.
Additionally, Student Consulting Group doesn’t really provide any information on the repayment plans or programs offered. It simply gives you a rundown of the consequences you could be facing if you default on your loans, and tells you to call if you’re in such a predicament.
Are There Fees?
Yes, though specific fees aren’t disclosed anywhere on the site. Student Consulting Group only says that each person’s situation is different, so fees are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
From the FAQ: “…our fees vary depending on the complexity and scope of work required.” A one-time service fee is mentioned, as well as “affordable payment options.”
What If I Have Private Student Loans?
Unfortunately, Student Consulting Group won’t be of any help to you. It only offers solutions for those who have Federal student loans.
However, that doesn’t mean your situation is hopeless – far from it. If you’re having trouble paying back your loans, the first step (for any borrower) should be to contact your student loan servicer. Speak with them about any options available. Some servicers offer repayment assistance, even if they’re not required to.
If you don’t have any luck there, you might want to consider consolidating your loans with a servicer that does offer forbearance or more payment flexibility. Additionally, you’ll want to look for an option that lowers your monthly payment so it’s more affordable for you.
[Look into refinancing student loan options here.]
Don’t Pay For What You Can Do For Free
Don’t let these companies intimidate you into thinking you can’t manage your student loans. Millions are doing it every day. The key is to educate yourself. We understand it can be difficult to sort through all the available information about student loans, but it’s your best line of defense when it comes to making informed decisions.
These companies may have “expertise” on their side, but they don’t have access to special information. Everything you need to know is out there, presented on the studentaid.ed.gov website. If you ever have any questions, you should call your student loan servicer, and they’ll be able to answer them, or direct you to someone who can.
Don’t pay for services you can do yourself. Getting out of default, into another repayment plan, or consolidating your loans isn’t something you need someone else to do for you. Get free advice from the Department of Education, educate yourself on your options, and take the necessary steps to get yourself into a better situation with your student loans.