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Advisor Insights

The Best Student Loan Planning Tool Is Free

The top tool for navigating the complexities of student loan repayments comes from an unlikely source, notes contributor Ben Brown.

As more members of Generations X and Y begin looking for financial advice, advisors are increasingly likely to encounter clients who require some level of student loan planning. Further, and with total national student loan debt recently surpassing $1.56 trillion (over $520 billion more than total U.S. credit card debt), this isn’t a trend that is likely to go away anytime soon. The trouble is that most advisors are woefully unprepared to help clients navigate the painfully intricate complexities that student loans are subject to, particularly in an industry that has historically been focused on advising on assets as opposed to debt.

Recognizing an opportunity, several members of the financial technology industry are focused on creating solutions to help advisors navigate client student loan complexities and provide more value, with multiple advisor-focused student loan planning tools having launched in just the past few years. Yet while many of these tools have attractive user interfaces, and may even be able to create client-facing deliverables, most (perhaps surprisingly) seem to fall short of expectations with regard to their ability to actually solve complex student loan planning issues. Whether through a lack of flexibility, the inability to adequately account for total household student loan debt (where both spouses have loans), or data output that is just plain inaccurate, it’s difficult to find a solution advisors can use with confidence and feel comfortable buying.

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