When I tell people that I’m a student loan lawyer, I usually get a strange look. That’s followed by something like, “I didn’t think you could do anything about student loans.”

It’s as if people are reading from a script, over and over again.

Josh Cohen and I spend a lot of time training lawyers how to practice in the field of student loan law. But a lot more attorneys wonder whether there’s anything they can do to help people.

There are lots of companies promising to help student loan borrowers. Why then, my lawyer friends wonder, would someone would hire an attorney instead of one of those companies?

After all, it doesn’t seem as if a lawyer is worth the money. Better to spend less and hire one of those “student loan consultants” instead, right?

Unless you know exactly what you need and are dealing with only a single federal loan, that’s half right. You may not need a lawyer – then again, you probably don’t need to hire anyone at all.

But before you make the move to hire a consultant rather than a student loan lawyer, consider these points.

A Student Loan Lawyer Can Be Cheaper

Many consultants charge $1,000 or more for a federal student loan consolidation. Getting you into income-based repayment often costs about the same, if not more.

Compare that with my fees for helping you do the same thing. For consolidation I usually charge somewhere in the $500 range. Same for income-based repayment.

The Right Advice Can Save You Thousands

When you’re dealing with a consultant, you don’t get the benefit of legal advice. And without legal advice, you’re trusting your financial future to someone without formal training.

Let me give you an example: I was talking with a woman who had over $100,000 in federal student loans, all in default. A student loan consultant was trying to sell her on consolidation and income-based repayment. This woman was ready to shell out over $1,500 to this consultant (he was offering her a discount, no less).

Instead of sending her money to the consultant, she called me.

We discussed how rehabilitation would preserve her rights in case she defaulted again. I told her how it would also repair her credit score fast. We outlined her steps, and worked through the process before she committed to anything.

My fee? Far less than the consultant. Plus she got the benefit of a deep analysis from someone who has formal training in the field of student loan law.

A Student Loan Lawyer Can Deal With Private Loans

Consultants don’t understand the complexities of National Collegiate Student Loan Trust and other private student loan entities.

If a private student loan company sues you, the consultants can’t defend the case. They can’t give you legal advice, and aren’t allowed to talk to you about what happens if there’s a judgment against you.

Student loan consultants can help you work out a settlement, but they can’t give you help when it comes to the tax consequences (the link is for settlement of credit card debts, but it’s the same thing for student loans). They don’t understand how to protect your assets, and the law is a mystery to them.

A lawyer who helps with student loan problems will understand state and federal laws. He’s going to be able to tell you how to protect your assets, and help you decide whether to defend a student loan lawsuit.

Looking to settle a student loan? A lawyer’s going to pack a lot more firepower than a consultant because we know how the collection game works. We understand how student loans are bought and sold, and we know it’s different than how credit card collections work.

Student Loan Lawyers Can Show You How To Do It For Free

Want to know a secret? You can do a federal student loan consolidation on your own – and there’s no charge.

You can get yourself out of default without any help, too.

Same goes for getting into income-based repayment. Do it on your own, no charge.

A student loan lawyer will tell you that, but a consultant usually won’t.

Know why? Because the consultant makes money if you use their services to process your paperwork. That’s the only thing they can offer – no advice, no guidance, and no training.

The lawyer earns a living based on advice and helping you figure out which solution is best for you. It may be a smart idea to hire an attorney can help you process your application, but that’s up to you once you know your best move.

Is it worth your money to work with a student loan lawyer?

If you’re looking to waste your money on someone to process a free application then you should work with a consultant.

Do you want guidance, advice, a full analysis of your options, and a broader range of services at a lower price? If so, then you owe it to yourself to consider hiring a student loan lawyer.