Navigating student loans during the COVID crisis.
{New Podcast Episode}

written by Bari Tessler April 9, 2020
Navigating student loans during the COVID crisis.

Hi Friends,

I’m excited to share with you an interview I did this week with Student Loan Expert, Travis Hornsby. His company helps people figure out when someone should pay off their student loans or seek forgiveness programs and the best path forward.

I’ve been looking for a new student loan expert for many years now. The last time I interviewed someone who specialized in student loans was in 2013!

In 2013, student loans seemed to be the bane of our existence and the darkest hour of our money issues. I know I’m being dramatic but the options seemed so limited and the interview felt intense and mostly hopeless.

Maybe because we are in the midst of a pandemic or maybe because Travis brings so much light-hearted-ness and options to this area of life, I got off the call hopeful and now want to send everyone I know to him and his team.

There is such a nuanced specialty with laws and regulations and loopholes that are changing all the time. So, honestly, I wasn’t sure how much practical info we covered in this interview since there is still so much I don’t understand in this arena. But my wonderful team created interview notes for all of us and these are the practical bits we discussed. 

What’s changed about student loans because of this pandemic?

  • Stimulus – Federally-held loans takes your payment and interest down to zero until September 30th.
  • If you made any payments on your loans between March 13th and September 30th, you’re allowed to call your servicer and ask for a refund. 
  • You have to have been enrolled in a payment plan, then you don’t have to apply for anything, but you can call and ask for a refund. 
  • If you were not enrolled in a payment plan before that and your loan was deferred or in forbearance, you can visit to apply to be a part of the stimulus package.
  • If you’ve lost your income, you can apply to lower your payment for a much longer period of time. Go again to apply to have payment recalculated so that after September 30th, your payment will be at a new, lower number. 

Who does this NOT apply to?

  • People with private loans – private lenders. You can ask to have them stop for 3 months, but the interest rate continues to accrue. 
  • People with loans from before 2010 – if those loans are six figures – reach out to Travis to see what the best plan. There might be something you can do, but might not be worth it if you consolidate.

General Student Loan Advice:

  • You may want to file your taxes married, filing separately to exclude your partner from your student loans (which can save a lot of money.)
  • If you owe more than you’re earning, you might want to consider going for forgiveness rather than trying to pay your loans back. 
  • Can be viewed as a tax instead of debt – if you’re doing something you love as a result of your education. 
  • There are lots of solutions that will depend on location – for example he worked with someone on a breadwinner loophole in California that can help you pay 10% on 50% of your income instead of the whole amount. Payment went from $3000/mo to $500/mo.

Forgiveness Programs:

  • Public service loan forgiveness program. You pay 10% of your income for 10 years – work for a not-for-profit or government. (There is a lot to get it done correctly).
  • Income-driven forgiveness. Pay 10% taxable income for 20 years. But you DO have to pay income taxes on the balance after 20 years. 

Ok, so if you have any stress or questions about student loans, please listen to this interview for some big emotional support. Then reach out to Travis’s team (Student Loan Planner) and either work with them or enjoy the free resources on their podcast, etc.

Listen in here:

Sending hope, support and solid resources, 

Travis Hornsby is a speaker and the founder of Student Loan Planner, which he launched after helping his physician wife navigate ridiculously complex student loan repayment decisions. To date, Student Loan Planner has consulted on over $865 million in student debt. Travis is a Chartered Financial Analyst and brings his background as a former bond trader trading billions of dollars. Trying to solve the student loan crisis brought him out of his first retirement at the age of 25.

He brings that same intensity to analyzing the best repayment paths for graduate degree professionals with six figures of student debt. Travis and his team have helped over 3,400 clients save over $158 million dollars on their student loans, and he’s been featured in U.S. News, Business Insider, Forbes, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, ChooseFi, Bigger Pockets Money, and more. For more information visit:

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