Student loans can be the banes of existence if you don’t know how to manage them. For one woman, she not only mastered how to do so, but she decided to start a business to share her knowledge with others.
The Shade Room posted an interview with Sonia Lewis, a 30-year-old native of Philadelphia, who created the company, The Student Loan Doctor, LLC. The company aims to coach people on how to resolve their federal and private student loan debt. And apparently, Lewis has made history creating what is believed to be the first African-American owned, the first woman-owned, and the first African-American woman owned student loan debt repayment company. Kudos, sis!
Lewis explained how her business grew by saying, “I started doing consulting for people in church, then the church sent the community, and the community sent friends. My passion started from my own debt. I needed to get myself together and sit my own self down. I felt like other people needed this too… Plus, I realized there were no classes to help people really understand their debt.”
In a short documentary, Lewis goes into more detail as to how this all started with her own debt. After not being able to go out with her best friend for drinks on a random night, something that would cost no more than $20, she decided to get real with her finances. She explained that she took off work and put all her student loan notices on the table, looking at them all asking, “Are you serious? It’s over.” But she didn’t feel defeated. She just knew that she had to solve this problem.
She attended a 9-week course by Dave Ramsay, a financial guru who she swears by, saying, “If anyone knows me really well, Dave and Sonia can go in the same sentence because I really just really appreciate what I learned in his 9-week class…[I] finished the 9-week course. My credit went up by 90 points. I had a savings. I was selling anything and everything. If it sat too long, it was getting sold.” And although her financial situation had turned around a bit, she wasn’t done learning.
She continued attending workshops, and one hosted by The Urban League was a turning point in her starting a business. While there, she attended a lecture on personal finance, and she was surprised that the speaker said nothing about student loan debt repayment. She said, “I was just so irritated because the whole room was full of millennials that just – no one wanted to ask or say it, but they wanted to know about loan repayment, so I kind of threw a question out there, and then everyone kind of swarmed in on the question about loans. He paused. He didn’t really have the answer. [But] I had the answer.” And voila! The Student Loan Doctor was born!
The company is only a little over a year old, but Lewis has made waves, helping many people manage their student loan debt. She not only hosts student loan clinics nationwide, but she is pursuing a doctorate degree. She told The Shade Room, “My dissertation is on how student loan debt disproportionately affects African Americans. African-American women are affected by student loan debt the most because we have the most degrees. As a result, we see black women excluded from home buying because of credit and other issues, and that trickles down.”
In an age where Black ownership is increasing, it is refreshing to see Lewis step into an arena where she is the first. And with this perspective, she will be able to help many Black women, and Black people in general, to get to a point where they, too, can be more confident about their financial futures. In her own words in the documentary, Lewis explained the goal of her historic business stating, “Student Loan Doctor, LLC is really, a long story short, a business to help others create a way out of their student loan debt, so the motto is one appointment, one plan, many solutions.”
You can check out her full story in the short documentary below: