Student Loan Hero is sponsoring this post. They asked me to check out their site and provide an honest review for my readers. What I found was a useful tool for student loan borrowers — particularly new graduates.
My biggest financial mistake was not to take out student loans, but to ignore them for too long. With $200,000 in student loans, I thought that paying them off forever was a foregone conclusion. Then I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and met the frugal folks over on Mr. Money Mustache’s Forum. At that point, I confronted the fact that our overwhelming student loans had affected important life decisions about our careers and whether to have children (and how many).
We should have learned more about our student loans sooner.
We should have paid off the accrued interest before it capitalized at the end of the grace period.
We should have paid more than the minimum monthly payment while we had the opportunity.
Better late than never, we paid off one private loan and significantly reduced another after a few of Mr. Stapler’s side hustles paid off. Although we graduated with over $200,000 in student loans, we have paid off only $30,000 eight years later.
New graduates: Don’t make the same mistake we did. Look at all of your student loans, your monthly payments, and how long it will take to eliminate your loans. You can do it the hard way, looking up all of your loans individually and entering balances into an Excel spreadsheet, or you can use an online tool like Student Loan Hero or Mint.com.
Student loans have their own unique set of options for borrowers, which makes traditional debt calculators irrelevant. For that reason, Student Loan Hero has calculators to help you answer common student loan questions:
- What is the best repayment plan for me?
- Should I consolidate or refinance or keep my loans the way they are?
- Should I use savings to pay down debt or invest?
It’s like they read my mind when they developed those calculators! My favorite is the calculator that settles the age-old question of whether to pay down debt or invest. It even takes into account the tax implications when coming up with an answer.
When you sign up for a Student Loan Hero account, it will ask you to go through a few steps so it can automatically populate your account with your loans. The setup is annoying, to be sure, but it’s just as annoying when you set up your accounts with Mint.com. The result is worth the annoyance, however, because your balances and payments will automatically update.
Student Loan Hero is a great place to view a snapshot of your outstanding loans.
Student Loan Hero also provides an analysis of your loans and repayment options — including calculations using your actual loan information. The report is not a generic, one-size-fits-all description with examples of monthly payments and the cost of interest over time. Rather, the report crunches your numbers so you can make the best decision you can.
There is, however, a caveat for borrowers who are currently on a repayment plan longer than 10 years:
If, like me, you are on a 30-year plan, all of the calculations in this report will be off for you. The information about your options is still good, but you’ll have to manually input your monthly payments into the calculators to get your actual numbers.
There you have it: The good and bad about Student Loan Hero. New grads who are on 10-year repayment plans will get the maximum benefit out of Student Loan Hero. Borrowers with longer repayment terms can still find a good deal of value in the site. In particular, with the aggregation of all of your student loan data in one place and the handy calculators.
It will help you understand your options in a way that allows you to make informed decisions about how to move forward with your loans.
Are you already using Student Loan Hero? What do you think?