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Updated on Thursday, September 24, 2015
Student Loan Resolve’s main focus is on helping federal student loan borrowers file and process paperwork for the U.S. Department of Education. It also helps struggling borrowers with consolidating student loans, putting a stop to wage garnishment, and getting student loans out of default. Of course, they’ll handle all of this for a fee, when you can do the same for free.
Big Red Flag – Warning Issued by the Government
Before we begin this review, it’s important to note Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, filed a suit against Student Loan Resolve in May 2015. In summary, “The Illinois Attorney General further alleges the company charged illegal upfront fees for the services offered, illegally misrepresented the scope of services that the company is able to perform and illegally misrepresented the promised benefits of their offered services.”
While the promises made by such “student debt relief companies” might sound nice, there’s no reason to pay a third party company to fill out paperwork for you. You’re already struggling to afford your student loan payments, and this arrangement will only make your situation worse.
Services Offered by Consumer Financial Resources
Student Loan Resolve mainly focuses on helping borrowers consolidate their federal student loans. It also says it can give borrowers information on teacher loan forgiveness and removing student loan defaults (along with the negative side effects that go with it).
When you first look on Student Loan Resolve’s website, you’ll notice two phone numbers – one for the sales department, and one for the support department. The fact “sales” is even a thing should be a red flag.
When you’re dealing with federal student loans, you’re working with the government, and they’re not trying to sell you on anything. They’re just trying to help you figure out the best solution to make your student loan payments more manageable.
How the Process Works
Student Loan Resolve has two phone numbers you can call, an email address, a contact form to fill out, and a physical address listed on its website. The contact form doesn’t even ask for your student loan debt amount.
There’s next to no information offered as to how Student Loan Resolve will help you. It only says it will help you fill out the necessary paperwork for consolidation and teacher loan forgiveness. It pushes calling for a “free student loan consultation,” but you can call your student loan servicer for free and receive the same (or better) service.
How You Can Stop Struggling for Free
Let’s talk about how you can take control of your student loan debt situation yourself – for free. Many third party companies aren’t willing to break down the exact process of how they’ll work for you, and it’s better to educate yourself.
Student Loan Consolidation: Student Loan Resolve provides the most information on this solution. Are you aware you can fill out the application online in around 30 minutes just by going to studentloans.gov? All you need is your FSA ID and password. You don’t even have to leave the house or pick up the phone.
Applying for a Direct Consolidation Loan is beneficial for those who owe multiple servicers throughout the month. If you can’t keep track of when your payments are due because you have five or more bills, consolidating allows you to owe one servicer so you only have to make one payment per month. It’s much easier to handle.
If you have any other questions about consolidating your loans, you can always call the Loan Consolidation Information Center: 800-557-7392.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: This is the second thing Student Loan Resolve says it can help borrowers with, but it only has a little blurb of information about it on the “FAQ” page. Teacher loan forgiveness is one of the more popular forgiveness programs, but it might not completely forgive your entire student loan balance.
You must meet several eligibility requirements, and only “up to a combined total of $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans” can be forgiven. You can only apply to get your loan forgiven after you’ve been teaching for five years. The application can be found here, and the chief administrative officer of the school where you taught has to complete it. It can then be sent to your student loan servicer.
Removing Student Loan Defaults, Preventing Wage Garnishment, and Stopping Student Loan Tax Offsets: All of these can be lumped together as the solutions are the same. If you’ve fallen behind with your student loan payments, you’re either delinquent or in default. Neither is a good place to be, but defaulting has worse consequences and is harder to bounce back from. Harder, but not impossible.
The first step you can take to get your loans out of default is to simply consolidate them under an income-driven repayment plan. By doing this, your monthly payments will be less, and you’ll have a greater amount of time to pay back your loans. Be aware this means the overall total cost of your loan increases if you never pay more than the minimum payment. You can always pay extra once your situation improves.
If consolidating isn’t an option, you can look into rehabilitating your student loans. You must be able to make some sort of payment in this scenario. A monthly payment amount that’s “reasonable and affordable” will be determined based on your income, and you’ll be responsible for paying that amount for nine out of ten consecutive months. Once your loan has been rehabilitated, the default will be erased from your credit, and your loan will be back in repayment status with the original benefits federal student loans get. You can talk to your student loan servicer about this option.
Generally Making Student Loan Payments More Affordable: This isn’t something Student Loan Resolve mentions, but you should know there are many repayment options available to federal student loan borrowers. These repayment options exist solely to make your monthly payments more affordable. Looking at the Repayment Estimator is an easy way to see which repayment plans you might be eligible for. You can always call your student loan servicer and ask them about your options as well.
For short-term debt relief, you can also inquire about deferment or forbearance. Under these two options, you won’t be required to make student loan payments for a set period of time. This gives you a little breathing room while your finances recover.
What Fees Need to be Paid?
There’s only one mention of fees, which is on the “Disclosures” page: “The Consolidation fee has been earned by SLR once SLR has submitted the direct consolidation loan paperwork…” so there are fees associated with the process.
A look at the BBB and Ripoff Report shows borrowers having to deal with a monthly fee on top of their student loan payment. In essence, their payments aren’t much lower than what they were paying before – $50 fees are being tacked onto their monthly payments.
Honesty and Transparency Levels
On its “About” page, Student Loan Resolve is transparent about the fact borrowers can go to http://www.ed.gov for free to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan and find additional information on student loan debt solutions. It claims some borrowers are too overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with the process, which is why they turn to a third party company for help.
On its “Disclosures” page, it says customers are eligible for a full refund if it fails to submit the paperwork to the Department of Education. It also makes it clear it’s not affiliated with the government in any way, and goes so far as to say it’s a “private ‘for profit’” organization.
What to do if You Have Private Student Loans
If you don’t have federal student loans, you may be wondering what solutions are available for you. Most student debt relief scams are going after Federal borrowers, but if you have both Federal and private student loans, you should know what options you have.
It doesn’t matter if you have Federal or private loans, you should make every effort to contact your loan servicer or lender to talk to them about the difficulties you’ve been having with your loans. If you can’t afford to pay, they need to know about it.
Some private lenders will be able to offer you repayment assistance while others may not have those programs in place. There’s no rule governing private lenders, so they aren’t required to offer benefits like the government does.
That’s okay. If your current lender can’t do anything for you, you might want to look into refinancing with a company that will work with you. SoFi* and Earnest* are the top two student loan refinancing companies, and they both offer a wide range of repayment assistance programs you can take advantage of. Both companies work with borrowers because they don’t want to see anyone default.
Don’t Rely on Third Party Companies
Hopefully by now you realize relying on third party companies to fill out paperwork on your behalf isn’t the answer. You’re much better off educating yourself for free, while taking the necessary steps to improve your situation. Dealing with third party companies can be a headache, and not worth your time or the stress. Call your student loan servicer instead and ask them what solutions are best for your situation.
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