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About This Episode

BBetsy Mayotte, the founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors (TISLA) joins the show to share free student loan advice that she has gained in over 20 years in the student loan space. She’s helped thousands of families navigate through financing their higher education goals. Most recently, she has spent the last 18 years working for American Student Assistance®, a Boston-based nonprofit organization with 60 years’ experience helping people make better decisions about financing their education and repaying student loans. Betsy has served as a primary negotiator for several federal Title IV negotiated rule making sessions on topics such as the use of student loans at foreign schools, loan rehabilitation and borrower defense to repayment. In addition, Mayotte frequently conducts regulatory trainings for the higher education financing industry both in the United States and as far away as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She is regularly quoted in the media on student loan issues and was a frequent contributor to U.S. News and World Report’s The Student Loan Ranger blog Betsy was born and raised in Lowell, MA and currently lives in Plymouth, MA. We hope you have your thinking caps on today because Betsy jumps into why she started a free student loan advice nonprofit, her experience negotiating the details of regulations that directly impact your rights as a student loan borrower, and the three most important take-aways she believes every listener should implement after listening to this Student Loan Podcast episode.

THIS EPISODE COVERS:

  • How student loans evolved in the 1990s
  • How politics can impact how student loan policy is shaped
  • How You can get involved in your government’s decisions on federal student loan policy and your rights as borrowers
  • Tips for how to tackle your student loan debt and personal finance
  • And much more…

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Resources FROM THIS EPISODE:

Betsy Mayotte (00:00): Unfortunately, there's a lot of student loan scams out there that use PSLF to draw in their victims. They'll contact people and say, we can make, we can get you eligible for PSLF. We can get you forgiveness. If someone tells you that without even knowing your loan information, you can hang up the phone quick enough.

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:19): Welcome to the student loan podcast. Here. You'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans, where your hosts, Daphne, Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:38): Welcome to another episode of the student loan podcast. And we have brought back a very special guest. Betsy Mayer is here to discuss public student loan forgiveness and the rise in student loan scams. So Betsy, let's start off with the public student loan forgiveness program, and then we'll turn our attention over to the rise in student loan scams and how to avoid them. S ounds good. Public service loan forgiveness is pretty popular program that was written into law under Bush. The second in 2007, the purpose of the program, it actually, if you look at the narrative that was written, when Congress wrote it into law, what they specifically said is they were looking to incentivize people to not only enter into public service jobs, but stay in those jobs. What they were hearing prior to this is a lot of their constituents saying, listen, I have a passion for public service.

Betsy Mayotte (01:31): So I went to school to be able to follow that passion. But now that I'm out of school, I can't afford to stay in my public service job because my loan debt is so high. And that is a lot of what happens. If you look at some of the more traditional public service jobs, for example, public defenders, social workers, teachers, what they all have in common is that most of them require a graduate degree or more, uh, to be able to work in those fields. And that's when you really rack in the high student loan debt. And unfortunately they tend not to pay super well. This was a problem that Congress was trying to solve. So what PSLF does is that if you have, um, a federal direct loan and you work for an eligible employer, uh, for at least 10 years and make a payment that's considered eligible under the program, they forgive the balance 10 tax-free after that 10 year period.

Betsy Mayotte (02:24): So it's, it's a really great program that sort of sort of checks all those boxes of the problems they were trying to solve back in 2007. Okay. So like, I guess a question I have here to follow up then maybe this is more, so this is anecdotal. So not necessarily the numbers that I have here, but what would you say is the percentage of folks that actually get through that 10 year Mark and actually have their debt paid off? Cause I feel like I hear people complain about not getting approval for that program. So that's a trick question. Um, listen, I've seen all the same headlines. I've heard all the same complaints that, you know, less than 1% or less than 2% of the people that apply actually get it. Um, and the data that data is technically true, the numbers are true numbers. However, it doesn't, it doesn't tell the real story.

Betsy Mayotte (03:18): Um, if you think about the fact that, um, public service loan forgiveness was not written into law until 2007, but more importantly, you know, I mentioned that you have to make an eligible payment. Well, an eligible payment, most of the time is one that's made under an income driven repayment plan. And the vast majority of the income driven repayment plans didn't start until after 2009, most of them till after 2012. So if you take that into consideration that most people haven't even been in repayment long enough to have reached 10 years worth of payments and there's data that supports that to something like 70%. And this was data released by the department of education. I think over the summer, 70% of the people that are denied for PSLF have not even been in repayment for 10 years. So they it's impossible for them to have made the 120 payments needed. And then another 20% are denied because they are their employers didn't fill out the form correctly. So I work with many borrowers that have achieved forgiveness under PSLF. In fact, for your listeners that happened to use Reddit is actually a public service loan, forgiveness, subreddit, and the success stories on there now almost every single day.

Shamil Rodriguez (04:34): Nice. Very nice. I guess. So what you're saying is that it's really a matter of time,

Betsy Mayotte (04:40): Time and education. You need to read the things you need to read, all the things before you get started. And, you know, the department of ed has some great information on their website. Um, I'd like to think the write-up on our website at [inaudible] dot org is in plain English and easy to follow. And so just make sure you understand the rules of the game before you start trying to play that game.

Shamil Rodriguez (05:03): Of course. So just in case, uh, you broke up there, uh, Betsy for a moment. Uh, but I want to make sure that the part was that that students or our listeners who are interested in learning more information could go to the free student loan advice.org to learn more information and get in contact with you and your team on how to actually fulfill the obligations to qualify, uh, for PSLF.

Betsy Mayotte (05:26): Absolutely. And then, you know, one of the other myths I want to bring up is that a lot of people think that it matters what you do for a living for PSLF purposes. And it actually doesn't matter at all, what you do for a living, uh, what matters is who you work for. So the example I like to give our people that work at a public school. So say the Boston public school system, most of the teachers that work at the Boston public school system that have student loans are likely aware that they're potentially eligible for PSLF, but what, who may not realize that they're also potentially eligible are the administrative assistants, the cafeteria workers, the janitorial staff, the principal, again, it doesn't matter what you do. It matters who you work for. And also parent plus loans. A lot of people don't realize are potentially eligible for PSLF assuming it's the parent borrower who is working for the eligible employer.

Shamil Rodriguez (06:22): Okay. That's that's wonderful. I didn't know that. So I guess let's take that one step further, I guess. Does that apply to it? I guess university systems, is it a non-profits status that the organization needs to have in order to do that? Or I guess where, where do we draw guests? Where do we draw that line? That was a good example.

Betsy Mayotte (06:38): Great question. You need to be working full time for an eligible employer and an eligible employer is any government employer. That's federal state, local tribal. If you work for a government employer, you're working for an eligible employer full stop, another category, our five Oh one C3 nonprofit organizations. If you work for one of those, you're working for an eligible employer, full stop, where it gets a little trickier is that there are other nonprofits that aren't five Oh one that don't have a five Oh one C three status that also could be eligible. But then there's a few more boxes you have to check those organizations. Primary focus has to be one of about 15 different areas, such, you know, some of those areas are public education, public health, public library, for example, public law. If the organization is a nonprofit, but they're not a five Oh one C3 and their primary focus is one of those areas. And I have those listed on my site. They're also listed at the department of education site, student need.gov. Then that could also potentially be an eligible employer, but any private organization, partisan political organizations, lobbying firms, a private company, private for-profit companies, none of those are eligible employers.

Daphné Vanessa (07:55): Great, great feedback. I have a quick question on the number of payments. So given the fire movement and people who are doubling tripling, the minimum requirements for, for example, 401ks and, and, and, and funds like that, is there an approach where you could make two payments a month towards your, uh, student loans and that count towards the one 20? So maybe cut your time in half? No. Okay. So it's still a time issue.

Betsy Mayotte (08:23): You can never get, you can never get PSLF in less than 120 months in less than 10 years.

Daphné Vanessa (08:31): I see. So it's not payments it's actual months, correct?

Betsy Mayotte (08:34): Well, months where you've made the qualifying payment on a qualifying loan while working for a qualifying employer.

Daphné Vanessa (08:43): Got it. Okay. Was hoping to save some of our, uh, more hustling people out there, but nevermind.

Betsy Mayotte (08:50): There's no shortcuts at all.

Shamil Rodriguez (08:53): Good try. You don't know if you don't ask. That's good one. Absolutely. What about, so I guess I'll almost say mine, cause I feel like this is actually going to be something that I recall or people might are going to take into it as a really positive, uh, episode with some action items or action steps that they might apply to themselves. Not knowing that they were qualifying this entire time. The of, well, I guess along those lines of payments, if you don't make it, these qualified payments, 10 consecutive years in a row, then you're out and then that's it never again, like, I guess where are some of those wrinkles? Like, does it have to be consecutive? What if somebody stops working and gets back to that work at that same job, I guess where, where are some of those nuances?

Betsy Mayotte (09:29): Good question. So the good news is, is that the eligible payments do not have to be consecutive nor does the employment have to be consecutive or for the same employer. So you could be working for knowledgeable employer. You make 36, um, eligible payments on eligible loans while working for that eligible employer. So you've got 36 payments under your belt. And then, you know, you leave and go to the private sector for a little while. Or maybe you take some time off because you have a new baby or whatever reason those 36 payments are always going to be waiting for you. The only thing that will make you have to start from scratch is if you consolidate the loan. So any payments made prior to consolidation can never count for PSLF. But other than that, those payments again, will always be waiting for you. So you could take hypothetically, you could take 20 years to get that forgiveness if depending on what directions life took you.

Shamil Rodriguez (10:26): Hmm that's that's, that's good to know. I feel like a lot of people just kind of give up on the idea and obviously, like you said, doing, not doing the research, right. It's easy for people to be like, Oh, well I read that article and I probably don't qualify and like leave it at that. But then I'm hoping we're giving people hope that, Hey, you know what, I may be eligible here. So I guess one final question. What about people that hour that are trying to take advantage of this program? Now the repayment part again, if they have to be an income repayment plan, so they have to call their student loan company to get on that type of plan based on their income, right?

Betsy Mayotte (11:01): To give you the a hundred percent truthful answer it's any income driven plan or any payment made under a 10 year standard plan also counts. So I don't have to focus on that too much because if you make 120 payments on a 10 year standard plan, you're going to pay the loan off, but it can be a combination of those things. So if you've, if you've been on the 10 year standard plan for the last two years on a direct loan, while working for an eligible employer, those payments will count. But to really take advantage of the program, you need to get on an income driven plan and you can do that by calling your servicer or you could apply online. And it's actually super easy because it lets you connect with the IRS to prove your income right. At student aid.gov. Okay,

Shamil Rodriguez (11:43): Great. So we'll make sure that we link that in the show notes for this episode. So whoever is thinking that they may qualify or just wants to learn more information, uh, we'll make sure that we've got that website listed as well as your website, the free student loan advice that org Betsy, what other items are good to know for the public student loan forgiveness program that you've seen with some of the people that you've helped get across the finish line?

Betsy Mayotte (12:07): Yeah, a couple of things for one thing, you know, I want people to remember that the name of the game is to pay the least amount over time. And for some people that means pursuing a forgiveness program, such as PSLF for other people, it might mean paying their loans off aggressively. So, um, I think sometimes people get so caught up in the word forgiveness that they sort of lose that focus. I mean, if you get forgiveness great, but if it cost you more money out of pocket than it would have, if you take it a different strategy than you've done, haven't done yourself any benefit. So, you know, people with low balances in relation to their income are probably not going to benefit from PSLF it's people whose loan balances tend to be more than what their, um, and this is just back of the napkin.

Betsy Mayotte (12:51): You should definitely run your own numbers, but people whose incomes are lower than what their student loan balances are, the ones that are more likely to benefit from PSLF also on student aid.gov and also on our website, there are calculators where you can run the numbers to see not only what I ended up getting any money forgiven, but more importantly, how much am I going to pay out of pocket? So I definitely recommend that people do that. And I recommend that people do that on an annual basis, a tax time's a great time to reevaluate your, your student loan strategy. The other thing I want to mention that's a good tip is where there are currently issues with PSLF is in counting the payments. And I could go into gory detail why that is, but the why doesn't matter so much as how to prevent being affected by these incorrect payment counts. And the best thing that you can do is to submit your proof of employment on an annual basis. FedLoan servicing is the current public service loan, forgiveness servicer. And I find that people who's, most of their loan history is with FedLoan servicing a lot less likely to have a payment count issue. So even though you're not required to send proof of income every year, I strongly recommend that people do that. So their loan is transferred over to FedLoan servicing and they start counting the payments right away. Okay.

Daphné Vanessa (14:10): Thank you for that. I think that was super helpful and those are actionable items that people can take away and use. Um, so one last thing on this piece, people say, some people say public student loan forgiveness is a scam. Is it a scale?

Betsy Mayotte (14:26): Absolutely not. Um, as I mentioned earlier, we've worked with all tons of people that have received forgiveness under the program. In fact, we worked with one of the very first people that ever got forgiveness under. PSLF amazing. And you know, you see, I get emails from people all the time that got it. And again, if you want to see evidence of it, if you go to the PSLF sub on, you can see almost daily people that say I got my letter in the mail. Um, I've gotten forgive them some of the program now, you know, that's sort of a, a good transition to the other thing I wanted to talk about today, Daphne, which was student loan scams. So while PSLF, isn't a scam of itself, it's a legit and beneficial program. Unfortunately, there's a lot of student loan scams out there that use PSLF to draw in their victims.

Betsy Mayotte (15:21): And that's just one of the way they draw on their victims. So they'll contact people and say, we can make, we can get you eligible for PSLF. We can get you forgiveness. Um, if someone tell tells you that without even knowing your loan information, you can hang up the phone quick enough if they don't know what your loan information is, there's absolutely no way they can promise you forgiveness because there's criteria to these, these plans and what they end up doing is they charge a fee. Now there is never a fee for any of these programs. There's never a fee to consolidate your loans. There's never a fee to pursue public service, loan, forgiveness, or applied for it. There isn't a person or entity on the planet that can get you access to a program or a lower payment that you can't get yourself by working directly with your loan servicer or that, you know, any of free services such as Tesla's could, could help you with.

Betsy Mayotte (16:11): You should never pay a fee for access to any of these programs. The other place that I'm seeing, that we're actually seeing a big uptick in these scams, not only related to public service loan forgiveness, but all the discussion of whether a president Biden is going to do broad student loan forgiveness. Um, I had a borrower this week who was got a phone call was told that they were eligible for the Biden student loan forgiveness, which doesn't exist by the way. Oh my gosh. And they paid $999. Oh my gosh. Um, and because they were told it's first come first serve to the front of the line, um, they, they put a power of attorney on the borrower's account and changed all their contact information. So they didn't, they weren't getting their student loan mail anymore. Um, and all they did is they, um, they put a forbearance on the account, which the borrower didn't mean cause their account's already in forbearance because of COVID. So they pay, they literally paid $999 for nothing. Oh

Daphné Vanessa (17:14): My goodness. That is scary.

Betsy Mayotte (17:15): It's really scary. And we're trying to do a lot of I'm so glad that you guys asked me about this because we're trying to do a lot of extra outreach right now because I'm hearing about similar scenarios to that on almost a daily, right.

Daphné Vanessa (17:29): That's disgusting. How, how are, how are we supposed to know? So can you talk to us about the anatomy of a student loan scan? How are people supposed to know what a scam is from a legitimate opportunity?

Betsy Mayotte (17:43): So if someone calls you or emails, you and offers you forgiveness right off the bat, it's certainly a scam. Um, if they charge you money for it, whether it's a scam or not, there's no benefit to paying anybody. Cause as I said, all these programs are free and fairly, despite what you might read, fairly simple to access. Um, and again, this free was legitimate free resources out there for you. If you do need help, that those are sort of the, the first two red flags for a scam is if they promise you either a lower payment or forgiveness without knowing any of your loan information. And if they say that there's a fee now what's even scarier. Is that like the person that actually wasn't hurt was someone else. I actually talked to a reporter earlier this week who got one of these phone calls and what was really scary for her is they knew what her loan balances were.

Betsy Mayotte (18:38): Wow, wait, how do they do that? Yeah, my understanding is that they're somehow able to skim that information from the credit bureaus. So, you know, the person may end up sounding legit because they already know your loan information and they might make it appear like they were partnered with the department of education or part of your loan, servicer, or partnered with your loan servicer. Um, if there's ever any doubt, you hang up the phone and you, you log on to your, your servicer account yourself with your own password and call them directly. And they'll certainly tell you that, um, it was a scam. The long servicers are never going to, or the department of ed are never going to call you to offer you loan, forgiveness ever shoot you. That would be, it's not necessarily illegal to chart. It's not illegal to charge to provide student world help. It's illegal when they're deceptive about it.

Shamil Rodriguez (19:33): No, no. I was going to bring up, is, is this a you DAP issue then? Right?

Betsy Mayotte (19:37): Uh, I'm not an attorney. I'm schooled myself to stay away from any regulatory or legal questions outside of student loans, but it probably is also a UTEP issue, but it's also, um, it's also illegal to charge money upfront for financial services before you provide the services, which is another way. So the federal trade commission, as well as the department of that and the CFPB, but the FTC in particular has been working really hard to crack down on these people. And that's one of the places they usually get them is that they're charging the money up front for these financial services.

Shamil Rodriguez (20:10): That is so I think that was a great point there, Betsy, on what to do and definitely bringing up that question what to do when you're in that position. Right? So unfortunately we just live in a society where we're getting a couple of several calls a day from marketing folks every day. And so something that, that I, that I practice that I share and I think is right along there is that if they're calling you with your information, like they might call and say, Hey, uh, you know, before, you know, before we proceed with our call today, would you mind providing me some of your information? Would you mind giving me your date of birth? Would you mind giving me the last four of your social blah, blah, blah. No, it just, I just want to like be clear for our listeners that like no one should be calling you and asking you for your private information.

Shamil Rodriguez (20:50): If they called you, right. You called me, how about this? Give me your phone number and I'll call you back. Or what company are you calling with? And like Betsy said, log into your website or go onto your website, find out your customer service line and call them and say, Hey, do you have anything in your records that says that one of your, one of your team members called me today to ask me for some of my personal information before we could talk about this topic. Now I know some companies do legitimately call and before they can talk about your account, they have to verify that you are who you say, who they think that you are. But I think with all the scams that are out there, what Betsy is doing and what her organization is trying to combat is preventing you from falling into that.

Shamil Rodriguez (21:29): There is an increase for fraud and for scams out there and people want to take your money and do it in a way that makes it seem legitimate. And it's unfortunate, like you said, Betsy, somebody was, you know, changing someone's account information so that they wouldn't have, they would be on forbearance. And my presumption is that if they changed their address, they use the person that took the money from is no longer getting mail. So they think, and I hope you can elaborate on this. They may think that, Oh, I'm not getting any mail anymore. I guess my loan has have been forgiven. I haven't gotten any calls from this company. I guess my loans are forgiven. Do you think that's where they're going with it?

Betsy Mayotte (22:06): Yep. Yeah. That's absolutely what they're doing. I've seen people that thought their loans were forgiven or that they were put on a $0 payment. And the next thing they knew they were in default and their wages were being garnished. Was the next thing I heard about the loan because all the contact information was changed. The other thing these people do, which you should never do, no loan, servicer, no department of education, no legit organization is ever going to ask you for your FSA pin, which is the pin that you log in to student aid.gov with. No one is ever, ever going to ask you for that. So if they ask you for that, they absolutely are a scam. If they ask for your student loan password, if they ask you to sign a power of attorney, absolutely a scam. And not only would I hang up the phone, um, I would gather as much information as you can and report them to the federal trade commission, as well as your local attorney General's office. And even the department of education, give them the data they need to go after these people and make them be gone. I love that.

Shamil Rodriguez (23:08): I had a feeling definitely would like,

Betsy Mayotte (23:12): Yes. Um, I believe in justice. Sorry guys. Don't be sorry. I do too. And excuse me, unless, you know, some people get embarrassed. Oh my God, I can't believe I fell for that. And I don't want to report it for that reason. Well, first of all, that doesn't mean that you're dumb. Very smart people have fallen for these scams. I mean, these people are really, really good at what they do. And by reporting it, you're giving these organizations the ability to go, the evidence they need to go after at the very least keep an eye on these organizations. So it's nothing at all to be ashamed of and you're going to be doing a lot more good by reporting it then. Right.

Shamil Rodriguez (23:54): So Betsy, I have a follow-up question on there. Let's say I am one of those people that, you know, fell for the trap. Right. I walked right into it. I like w like one of your, one of your clients that you've helped, you know, they they've paid, I paid $999 to this company as a scammer. What do I do? Like, what can I do outside of reporting it? But like, what can I do from my perspective as now, you know, I still have my loans. I might be in default, that would be garnishing. My wages are there. Is there, you know, what do you do at that point after, you know, they've fallen for the trap, what can they do?

Betsy Mayotte (24:27): First thing you do is go and change all your passwords and pins on your student loan account, student aid.gov, as well as your servicer. The next thing to do is call your servicer and verify that the address and phone number on the account is yours. And let them know that if there's any power of attorneys on the account, that you're revoking them immediately and tell the servicer what happened to you. Um, most, if not all of the servicers have their own units these days that do what they can to try to protect their, protect the borrowers and try to for these, these companies. So tell them what happened to you again, make sure the contact information is correct. Make sure there's no more power of attorney on the account, find out the status of your account and if it's delinquent, what you need to do to rectify that delinquency.

Betsy Mayotte (25:17): Um, and then last but not least, uh, if you have some sort of reoccurring payment with the company, call your bank to cancel it and then email the company and call them and tell them that you're, that you don't want to work with them anymore. And ask for a refund, whether you get a refund or not is, will remain to be seen, but you should call the company last after doing all those other things, you know, you need to put your checks and balances back in place before you let them know that you're onto them, um, and that you aren't going to be working with them anymore.

Shamil Rodriguez (25:51): Good. That's great advice, Betsy. So what about the status of the loan at that point? Are some of the services working with people that have been caught in these scams to try to help repair the damage that has, that has been done or are they left, you know, just sitting there trying to put it together,

Betsy Mayotte (26:08): Kind of a little bit of both, you know, the servicers will do what they can to help the borrower, you know, repair their situation. Unfortunately, you're not going to be taken out of default if you were put into fault by a scammer, because ultimately the bottom line is it's considered the consumer's responsibility to make sure that everything is in good standing with their loans. So even if they were the victim of a scam, it doesn't sort of remove them from that responsibility. You know, it's sort of similar to, if you use a, a company to prepare your taxes for you, and it turns out that you owe penalties because of something they did, it doesn't mean that you don't, you still all the penalties to the IRS, even though it was a third party that did that for you, it's sort of the same scenario here, unfortunately.

Shamil Rodriguez (26:54): No, that's good to know. I mean, at least services are, are trying to work with you. I would be curious and maybe we've, we've come up with like a, a government policy nugget here where we can convince someone to draft legislation that might provide some sort of coverage for people they get caught in these scams. Now I know the taxes example, you know, some companies do provide some sort of coverage. Like if we mess up, you know, on your taxes or whatever, we'll, we'll, we'll pay you, but that's more of a private company, uh, incentive. Yeah.

Betsy Mayotte (27:23): Well, and that's a legit company, no student loan scammers ever going to provide that type of guarantee.

Shamil Rodriguez (27:28): Absolutely you're right.

Betsy Mayotte (27:30): And, you know, you know, going back to the tax example, what a consumer would have to do if they had penalties to the IRS, because of something dodgy that their tax preparer did, they would have to pay those penalties and then they would have to Sue the tax preparer to try to get that money back. Um, you know, when a consumer certainly has the option of, of try to Sue these scammers, but you know, these places are like, whack-a-mole, they disappear. They come back under a different name. So it can be really difficult to do, which is another reason to make sure the bigger guns, um, it has the, have the information they need to go after them for you.

Shamil Rodriguez (28:06): That's good to know. So Betsy, besides getting the message out there about scammers, especially on a day like today on April fools, I thought it was such a great idea that your organization is leading the charge at free student loan advice that Oregon trying to really push awareness on this topic. What else can organizations like yours like, like ours? What other ways can we try to help people from getting caught in these scams?

Betsy Mayotte (28:28): Well, so this, this social media campaign is actually an industry wide campaign. It launches on April fool's day, it's going for the next week. Uh, the theme is hashtag don't be fooled. So, you know, anybody that has an audience that potentially contains student loan borrowers, you know, can share the messaging. The more people we educate about these scams, the less likely the scammers are to be able to successfully suck more victims in. Um, so, you know, just like PSLF, I think really the key to success here is education. If you want to go to our Twitter, which is Tesla underscore RSL, you can share the posts that we make or create your own posts with the hashtag don't be fooled. Um, and not just this week, but, um, I think we're going to see another uptick of this activity, um, in the fall when the COVID waivers are starting to come off people's accounts and they start going into repayment. Again, I have a bad feeling that the scammers are going to kick up in gear at that point too. So maybe Mark it on your calendar and plan to do some more outreach, uh, to the people that you work with. Again, reminding them that these scams are out there and some tips on how to avoid them.

Shamil Rodriguez (29:38): No, for sure. Absolutely. I think that's a great point. And I think this also may fall in line with the idea that the tax filing deadline was pushed back. You want to make sure whoever is listening. Um, you know, that doesn't necessarily somehow some way I think Betsy, this camera's might try to figure out a way to finagle that, um, into, into their plans. Cause it just seems like they just keep figuring out creative ways to manipulate, uh, the news cycle or anything that comes out that way.

Betsy Mayotte (30:06): You're absolutely right. It's too bad. They couldn't use their powers for good,

Shamil Rodriguez (30:10): Well said. Well, well said, uh, so Betsy, uh, before we wrap up here today, well, would you mind just giving a quick once over on what teasel is? Uh, just so that people know a little bit about that if they didn't listen to the previous episode.

Betsy Mayotte (30:24): Yeah. Should I say, and you know, it's funny, a big reason that Tesla exists, why I founded it was to try to counteract these student loans, cameras. Um, I wanted to make sure that consumers, if they did want to work with a third party, had a, at a safe place to go that was free and that had experts. So, um, and so that's what [inaudible] stands for the Institute of student loan advisors. We're a five Oh one C3, nonprofit whose mission, um, whose reason for existence is to ensure that all consumers have access to free expert in neutral student loan advice. So, um, anybody can use our website, which I'd like to think is pretty comprehensive. And in plain English, we don't require registration. We don't collect any information, um, any of the information from you. And then if you need help beyond that, you can go to our contact page and email us your questions.

Betsy Mayotte (31:21): We are a small shop and on a pretty shoestring budget. So we can only do email, but frankly I think email, especially for the comp, some of the complex topics with student loans is actually better for people to have it in writing. Um, and we answer all questions, uh, or most questions within a business day. Uh, and then finally, if borrowers feel like they have some sort of dispute, um, on their loan, we will help them navigate that dispute. You know, some of the ways that we support ourselves, um, to keep the mission going is we do offer like webinars and other services to associations employers that might want to help educate their constituency about student loans. So we'll do those for a fee and that sort of how we keep the lights on here.

Shamil Rodriguez (32:08): That's wonderful. That's wonderful news. So you've been doing this for over 20 years, right. Uh, helping thousands of borrowers with their student loans. Uh, so, and I, and I appreciate and applaud you Betsy for using what I'm going to consider now, your super powers for good. Um, and thank you so much for joining us on the show today. So if folks want to find you, like you said, free student loan advice at org, we will, we will link that in the show notes. We will also be participating in the social media campaign of hashtag don't. Don't be fooled. We'll continue to monitor this situation. Betsy. I hope that we can bring you on as new, uh, topics come up as well. Is there anything else that you want to share with the listeners out there as today, marks the beginning of this week-long campaign, uh, that you would want to wrap up with here?

Betsy Mayotte (32:55): I guess I just want to point out that at least as of right now, there is no such thing as the Biden student loan forgiveness. Um, that's something that, you know, we hope might come to fruition, but we probably won't see anything in that direction until at the earliest over the summer. I, I think it's a tough Hill to climb. Um, it may not happen at all, but it certainly hasn't happened at this point. So if that's the call you get, that's another quick way to know that, that that's a scam

Daphné Vanessa (33:27): And, and share with us. Um, I think you said you have boot camps and courses. Can you share with us, uh, what your next one is coming up?

Betsy Mayotte (33:38): Yeah. So another way that, uh, we sort of keep the lights on is I offer, I put together what's called the student loan counseling bootcamp. It's intended for, um, I'm running into more people that are financial planners and wealth managers that their client's student loans or something they have to contend with. And they want to be able to offer holistic counseling, financial counseling to them. So, um, I'm, uh, I offer this student loan counseling bootcamp. It's a three day nine hours of training and going through it would allow participants to answer 99% of the questions that they'll ever get about student loans. The next course is being offered at 26th, 27th and 28th. Those three days, you can, I believe I sent you a link to the registration for it, just to be clear, this is not something for a student loan borrower. This is instead for someone who might be in a position where they're counseling student loan, borrowers. Um, so there is a fee for this.

Daphné Vanessa (34:38): Yup. And, and they get credit, right. So if you're a, is it a certified financial planner? Is it CFO which started? Oh, awesome. Great. Yeah,

Betsy Mayotte (34:46): It's actually a, because the course is so big. Uh, it's actually worth, I believe, eight and a half, um, credits.

Daphné Vanessa (34:53): Nice. That's awesome. Um, so for our CFPs out there, here is an opportunity to help people give holistic financial advice, as well as, um, becoming an expert somewhat for yourself in, in this really unique space that is top of mind for a lot of clients. Um, so thank you so much, Betsy. I really appreciate your time and chatting again, April. Fool's not April fools. Um, but we, we really appreciate having you.

Betsy Mayotte (35:23): Yeah. And I really appreciate you guys spreading the word on this. It's just so important. So thank you.

Shamil Rodriguez (35:28): No, of course. And, uh, to wrap up here, uh, if you want, you can also donate directly to a nonprofit organization@freestudentloanadvice.org, and you click on support. So you can give directly through this very important mission. And if you forgot or just want to look at it later when you're not driving or cleaning the house or whatever you're doing, while you listen to this podcast, you can visit the suit alone podcast.com for slash episode 23. That's a suit alone podcast.com forward slash episode 23.

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