Updated January 5, 2016

Student Loan Hero Review: Will It Save Your Day?

Student loan debt is a giant pit of quicksand that swallows up millions of grads each year and doesn't spit them out until many years — even decades — later.

If you’re a recent grad or a long-time holder of pricey loans, Student Loan Hero promises to swoop in and help you claw your way out of the hole. Read on to find out how this service works and whether it can really be your debt savior.

© JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

What Is Student Loan Hero?

Student Loan Hero is not a lender. It’s an aggregator tool you can use to view and track all of your student loans in one place and get strategies on how to pay them down the best way possible. It will also give you access to current interest rates and lenders that could refinance or consolidate your loans for you (that’s how Student Loan Hero makes its money).

Will Student Loan Hero Save You Money?

This is the big question.

The site doesn’t offer any specific numbers on how much they’ve helped borrowers save. Ultimately, whether it will save you money depends on how much you’ll use the site and its resources.

Are you totally lost when it comes to your student loans?

Do you feel like you have all these loans floating around with various due dates and balances, and you’re just praying you don’t miss a payment?

You could use the site to get organized and stay on track from now until you finally pay off your debt. It could make you pay more attention to all of your debt and consider options you’re not aware of — and that could result in your paying all your payments on time, paying off your loans earlier, and finding better interest rates.

How Student Loan Hero Works

Student Loan Hero has been compared to Intuit’s Mint, the site where you input all your bank and credit card accounts and loans and get a clean dashboard of where your money is coming and going.

For Student Loan Hero, you’re just looking at your student debt. You’ll see how much you owe in total and how much you’re averaging per month. And you’ll get a customized list of savings plans that you might be eligible for. Depending on your loan profile, that could include things like the Direct Consolidation Loan program, federal loan forgiveness, or private loan refinancing.

You could figure that stuff out on your own, with a lot of time and research, but Student Loan Hero makes it easy.

They break down the pros and cons of each option, with a recommendation as to which type of borrowers could benefit most from each plan. The downside is that you won’t actually be able to get any hard numbers on savings unless you take the next step and apply for one of these programs.

You’ll also get the skinny on the different repayment options for federal loans. For instance, you can learn about the different options for lowering your payments (such as income-sensitive or graduated plans), what the consequences of taking a deferment or forbearance are, and when it’s possible to get a loan discharged. It’s all in a general pro and con format, so if you’re looking for specific numbers, you’re out of luck.

How to Set Up Your Account

Getting started with Student Loan Hero is simple.

All it takes to create a free account is an email address and a password. Once your account is set up, you can access your loan dashboard. This is where you’ll manage your loans after you’ve added them.

If you have federal loans, you need to enter your federal student aid ID and password so they can be synced up with your Student Loan Hero account. You can also sync private loans serviced by Navient. To do that, you need to fill in your date of birth, Social Security number, last name, and your Navient user name and password.

If you have private loans through another lender, you can add those manually by entering your lender name, loan number, disbursal amount, current principal balance, interest rate, monthly payment amount, and repayment status.

Worried about hackers? The site uses a similar level of Internet security as traditional banks, and your data is encrypted.

Using the Dashboard

The dashboard is the centerpiece of your Student Loan Hero account. It shows how many loans you have, your total debt, the estimated amount you’re paying each month, and the average interest rate of all your loans. And your loans are prioritized — the one with the highest interest rate is listed first — and each loan’s status is listed so you can see at a glance which accounts are current.

The dashboard also gives you a snapshot of each loan. Specifically, you can see:

  • How much interest you’re paying each day
  • How much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan
  • How much of your monthly payment goes to interest vs. principal
  • How long it’ll take you to pay the loan off at your current payment rate

One neat feature of the dashboard is the payment slider. You can play around with the numbers to see how much faster you’d be able to clear the loan by paying more each month.

Other Account Benefits

Aside from the dashboard, there are a few other tools you can use to get a grip on your loans. The payoff progress chart tracks your payment history so you can see how much you’ve chipped away at your loan balance over time. There’s another chart that details how much of what you’ve paid has gone to the principal and the interest for each loan.

You’ll also find plenty of calculators for crunching the numbers on your debt. You can estimate how much you’ll save by refinancing private loans, calculate whether you’d be better off throwing every extra penny at your debt or investing it instead, and figure out how much interest you’ll rack up if you put your loans in forbearance.

One other perk is the detailed loan analysis you’ll get once you’ve set up your account. The report includes a complete overview of your loans, along with a look at how much you’d stand to gain from refinancing and what choosing an income-driven repayment plan for federal loans would cost.

How It Compares to Tuition.io

Student Loan Hero isn’t the only loan aggregator out there. Tuition.io is another company that offers free loan management services for federal and private loan borrowers.

On the surface, Tuition.io and Student Loan Hero have a lot in common. Both sites let you manage multiple loan accounts, both feature an easy-to-navigate dashboard, and both make specific lender recommendations for refinancing.

One of the biggest differences is that Tuition.io doesn’t require you to manually upload all of your private loans. That can be a time saver if you borrowed heavily from multiple private lenders. We spoke to the folks at Student Loan Hero, and they do have plans to be able to import more private loan info in the future.

Tuition.io also lets you create a customized plan for paying off your loans, rather than just giving you a broad overview of your different repayment options. If you’re looking for something a little more action oriented, you might prefer it to what Student Loan Hero offers.

Bottom Line

© Julen (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If you’re feeling frazzled by your student loans, Student Loan Hero can help you get your debt under control.

The key to getting the most out of your account is to actually pay attention to it and consider following the advice that’s being offered. That may mean taking steps to refinance or consolidate your loans and looking for ways to speed up your debt repayment whenever possible. The more effort you put in to your debt, the more you stand to save in the long run.

More from CreditDonkey:

Shopping in Market! Market!

23 Things Money-Smart College Students Do

Common Financial Aid Mistakes

Pay Off Student Loans Fast

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