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Secrets to Surviving Student Debt


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The student loan crisis is a very real concern for many American citizens. Whether you’re struggling in the midst of that crisis or watching and wondering how we could improve the system, this week’s episode is for you.

Our guest this week is Zack Geist, founder and CEO of Student Loan Tutor, the longest-operating student loan repayment management and solutions firm. Geist is also the founder of its parent company, Holistic Finance, which helps people navigate the implications of loan forgiveness and create holistic financial plans for clients, including investments and insurance. 

With his experience running five organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) and providing borrowers with student loan debt guidance, Geist is an expert in helping others navigate our often-confusing financial system. 


Having experienced difficulties and trauma early in life, Geist is grateful for those challenges and the ways they helped him learn and become the person he is today. 

An essential part of that growth process for Geist is mentorship. He believes that mentors have been around historically to “help [people] understand and make meaning and provide initiations and rites of passage for people who have been challenged with adversity so that they could embody this trauma and allow it to help them grow.”

Unfortunately, Geist says, our economic system “identifies each person as an individual separate unit that's cut off from everyone else,” leaving many people feeling isolated. But relationships are essential for success. Authentic bonds with others teach us how to create meaning and empower us to find solutions and make deeper connections.

This is why he created a company that provides mentorship for those seeking the knowledge they need to climb out from under student loan debt.


Geist realized that student loan companies take advantage of the isolation and lack of knowledge among their borrowers. “I realized that debt and slavery are linked together. […] I felt like student debt was something that [had become] a crisis around lots of companies starting up that seemed to be doing shady things. I knew there were programs that were intentionally put into place, but for some reason, people struggled [with] how to navigate those for their own best interest.”

Geist believes that if we’re forced to play the game of our current economic system, we should learn its rules. It’s possible to navigate the game with different strategies, leading to different outcomes. Often those who already have the means to learn about the game can discover ways to succeed at it, but that knowledge doesn’t always get passed on to others.

“What I really want to do is help liberate the people” through education and inspiration, Geist says. “Me, I'm here to help guide people through the labyrinth,” like Ariadne leaving a string to guide Theseus.


So how do we liberate ourselves? Partly through our own financial literacy, and partly through access to mentors like Geist and the people at Student Loan Tutor. 

“The good news I want to bring is that it is possible to navigate these things and [to] do it in ways where you're able to keep and move money and do beautiful things in the world.”

In this episode, Geist explains the newest SAVE repayment program and how borrowers could use the program to create more wealth, instead of living under a debt burden that continues to grow. 

Geist hopes that one day the student loan system will be corrected, but in the meantime, there are steps you can take to help protect and grow your future. This is where Geist’s companies Student Loan Tutor and Holistic Finance come into play. If you’d like to learn how to make this dream a reality, they can provide you with the knowledge you need. 

Check out the episode to hear more of Geist’s advice and observations about our current economic system, and to learn how you can better navigate the maze of student loan debt. 

Mentorship is a powerful tool for supporting future leaders. Check out how another Motivational Mondays guest is harnessing the power of mentorship to build a brighter future.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

[1:03] The lessons Geist learned through adversity
[7:39] How Geist got started with student debt advisement
[13:56] Dissecting the different types of student debt
[22:07] Financial literacy and the history of loans and debts
[25:41] The good news about student loan debt

Check out the Members Only episode to hear how Geist and Holistic Finance reframe investment to benefit not just the individual, but the wider community as well.




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