Andy Josuweit knows student loans. Back in 2012, he had $107,000 worth of student loans to pay off–a number that had ballooned from the $74,000 he’d graduated with three years prior. The problem? No one was giving him smart financial advice on how to deal with that debt.
“I’d call Sallie Mae, and I’d be talking to somebody in customer support, and they didn’t know what they were talking about,” he explained in an interview with Uproxx. “And I said, ‘This is ridiculous. I need to be taken seriously, but nobody is really able to help me.’”
That’s when he decided to create Student Loan Hero, a platform that helps educate graduates on their repayment options. “We pull in all your student loan data so you can see all your loans in one dashboard, and then we make financial recommendations based on your income, your job, where you live, etc.”
It’s a much-needed service, considering that there are over 70 different repayment plans—both private and federal—available for students. Confusing much? Not to mention the fact that, according to a recent survey commissioned by Student Loan Hero, 19% of Americans don’t know what student loan benefits they can claim on their taxes, and you end up with a whole lot of people chipping slowly and inefficiently away at out-of-control amounts of debt.
But helping graduates navigate the wild and f*cking miserable world of student loan debt is just one of Josuweit’s passions. Another is travel—and educating new grads on how they can cut down on living expenses and maximize the amount they’re paying on their loans each month while still experiencing the world.
Josuweit’s own travel story began when he spent a semester in college studying in Vienna, Austria. Growing up in Pennsylvania farm country, he was the first of his family to travel anywhere more exotic than the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. “That first experience in Austria ignited the travel bug,” he explained.
It also showed him how he could save money by living abroad. Even in Austria’s capital city, he was able to bank up nearly $5,000 over the course of that semester. “The cost of my apartment was a lot lower than a dorm on my campus, so that’s primarily where the savings came from. Also, I didn’t have to have a meal plan, so being able to shop and cook in my apartment in Austria helped.”
Josuweit’s travel didn’t end with Austria. After graduating from college in 2009, he took a three-month microfinance internship in Ghana, Africa. It was unpaid, but his expenses were only $1,000/month, and the experience was good for his resume.