Professional Designations

What Is a Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP)?

By  Ash and Pri

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A Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP) is a financial advisor who has completed the educational requirements for the accredited CSLP program and can accurately advise clients on student loan repayment while progressing towards their financial goals.

This article will define the Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP) designation, why you should hire an advisor with this designation, and what it takes to earn and maintain the CSLP designation. 

What Is the Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP) Designation?

CSLP is a specialized designation for licensed financial advisors. Holders of the designation are recognized as experts in student loan repayment. Created by foremost experts in the field, the CSLP designation provides financial planners with the knowledge to offer the most current and accurate advice and tactics for repaying student loans. 

The CSLP program is accredited by Cal Poly Humboldt (Humboldt State University) in California. Students must complete four courses to obtain the CSLP certificate. These four credits can also be transferred to any other university in the California State University system and other public colleges and universities in the U.S. 

The CSLP program is rigorous and prepares financial planners to provide student loan consulting to various clients. The course content also includes developing a deep understanding of the most current legislative issues and laws related to student loan repayments. 

The designation provides financial planners with ongoing resources and a community of experts to help them grow their practice. 

Should You Hire a Professional With a CSLP Designation?

Graduating students and their families are under tremendous stress. On average, college graduates owe $30,000 in student loans upon graduation. If not handled correctly, this can be a substantial financial burden and potentially delay the achievement of the family’s financial goals by years. 

This is where consulting a Certified Student Loan Professional can pay off. All CSLP holders must meet rigorous qualification requirements and have a solid financial planning background. They can help clients understand how student loans work and suggest the best techniques to pay off loans quickly. CSLP holders will also provide information about the latest government assistance programs and the strategies to leverage these correctly. 

As a bonus, CSLP designees can leverage their expertise to build an overall financial plan for the students and their families. They will tailor repayment plans with the family’s specific financial goals and situation as the north star. 

Consumers will find many unscrupulous companies that offer ‘debt relief’ or ‘debt reduction’ plans for exorbitant fees. On the other hand, CSLP holders must abide by a strict code of ethics and a standard of professional conduct to maintain their designation. It is essential to rely on certified experts and avoid falling into the trap. 

What do Certified Student Loan Professionals Have to Say About Hiring a CSLP?

We asked Michael Acosta, a financial advisor and Certified Student Loan Professional with The Dumas Team at Consolidated Planning, to offer his perspective on the potential benefits of hiring a CSLP. Here’s what he said:

“More and more young professionals are beginning their adulthood post-graduation with student loans.  For many, they view loans as this ball-and-chain that holds them back from experiencing life to the fullest or even causes them to postpone pursuing milestones. 

This doesn’t have to be the case, and from an unconventional standpoint working with a Certified Student Loan Professional can offer young professionals a new perspective on “life with student loans”. 

My ultimate goal as a CSLP is to help my clients design a better student loan repayment strategy that either seeks some form of forgiveness, reduces the total monthly minimum required payment to free up additional discretionary cash flow, or figures out how to reduce the total interest paid long-term if the best option is to pay them back in full. 

If I can provide flexibility and balance within my client’s student loan strategy, then I’ve ultimately done my job.  I understand the importance of time-value of money and compounding interest, and I emphasize this to my clients as well. 

If we throw everything and the kitchen sink at their student loans and neglect the liquid savings or investment areas of their balance sheet for 5-10 or 10+ years in order to pay off their student loans, they’ll rarely feel financially at peace and will likely always be one unexpected life event away from being in a worse off financial situation with debt.  The goal should be to address the loans in an efficient manner so that you can enjoy life today while planning for a successful financial future!”

What Does It Take To Earn and Maintain the CSLP Designation?

Students must display a solid background with considerable experience in the financial field and also must complete the educational requirements of the CSLP program. 

1. Experience

The CSLP program is specifically built for financial professionals who hold a designation in a regulated financial industry. Accepted designations include CFP, CPA, ChFC, CFA, EA, or RIA.

Candidates can contact the CSLA institute directly if they do not meet this qualification criterion and want more details about the organizational qualifications.

2. Education

The CSLP program is split into four courses and 40+ modules. Candidates can purchase each course separately for $450. The bundle fee for all four courses and the exam offers candidates a better deal as it currently costs $1,495. Students must complete all courses before taking the examination within six months of registration. 

Course #1: Student Loan Advising Foundations

The course will help students understand the fundamentals of repayment programs for student loans and how it applies to their work with clients.

Course #2: Student Loan Program Analysis

The advisor must first understand the process of loan detailing to ensure that they are advising their client correctly.

This module will teach students how important it is for advisors and borrowers.

Course #3: Student Loan Advising & Financial Planning

This course will teach students everything from the basics to more advanced topics. Candidates can expect a thorough understanding of legislation, planning using insurance and business entities, and multiple tax considerations that may arise when working with clients who are based abroad. 

Course #4: Student Loan Advising Case Studies

The final course comprises examples that show how to give practical advice. Candidates will review case studies to analyze the present situation and client goals and conduct an analysis before making recommendations for improvement in their client’s life. 

The courses are online and self-paced. Candidates do not need to complete the courses to attempt the final exam, though reviewing the material and attempting the practice exam in advance are strongly recommended.  

3. Practice Tests

Each course contains a practice test that candidates can attempt up to 10 times. Individual modules also have associated quizzes that help students stay on top of the material. 

4. CSLP Exam

The CSLP exam is a 2-hour exam with 90 multiple-choice questions. This exam tests the participant’s knowledge and understanding of student loan programs. They will also answer questions about advising clients throughout the repayment period.  Students must score at least 70% to attain the CSLP designation successfully and may retake the exam, if needed, after a 7-day waiting period.

The CSLA Institute recommends completing the exam within six months of entering the CSLP program. With a consistent study schedule, most participants complete the course in 1-2 months. An extension fee will be required if the exam is taken after six months. 

5. Code of Ethics

CSLP credential candidates and designees must adhere to the CSLP Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Any code violations may result in the revocation of the candidate or designee’s right to use the CSLP designation.

6. Certification Renewal

CSLPs must renew their credentials annually. CSLP certification holders must complete all new or amended educational lessons, pass the annual recertification exam with a minimum score of 70%, and pay a $225 renewal fee. The recertification validates their ongoing competency in student loans within the context of financial and tax planning.

📍 Click on a pin in the map view below for a preview of CSLP financial advisors who can work with you to develop a personalized financial plan.

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About the Author

Ash & Pri

Ash & Pri are the founders of, where they empower readers to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. 

After achieving their FIRE goals in their 30s, they launched their blogging business in late 2021 and scaled it up quickly to generate a consistent income within a few months. 

You can find their expert financial advice & tips featured on sites like Forbes, GoBankingRates, Apartment Therapy, MSN, and more.

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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