Sonia Lewis is known as The Student Loan Doctor. She’s a 30-year-old Philly native who started what’s believed to be the first African-American and woman-owned student loan debt repayment company!

“I started doing consulting for people in church, then the church sent the community, and the community sent friends,” she told TSR. “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.”

But sis is working to change that. She hosts student loan clinics nationwide and is currently finishing her doctorate degree. “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,” she explained. “As a result, we see black women excluded from home buying because of credit and other issues, and that trickles down.”

Even though debt can be a scary topic, Sonia lets her clients know that it IS possible to tackle. “It’s possible but you also have to be realistic. I always like to say we start with hope and a plan. We have to talk about budgets, and design life around your student loans because it isn’t going anywhere.”

“There are so many programs that are legit to get this forgiven. We aim to be creative with solutions,” she shared. “It’s not just about the debt but learning to plan financially so your children’s children also have a plan.”

Cheers to #BlackGirlMagic and getting Sallie Mae and Navient off our backs!

TSR STAFF: Myeisha E.! @myeisha.essex