By Debbie Bradford, USA Funds Consultant
An effort as important as preventing student loan default deserves an institution-wide approach, not just one single project focused on a specific service or activity.
Take a look around your campus. There are many places where you can incorporate default prevention activities into processes that already exist. Here are just a few to consider:
In the classroom
It’s a great idea to include financial literacy education in the classroom. And those lessons don’t necessarily need to be separate from other class discussion. Some schools I work with use student loan information as examples in business or math classes. Incorporating this material in lessons aimed at all students not only educates current borrowers about repayment, but also gives those who don’t have student loans some food for thought when considering whether and how much to borrow in the future.
Encourage faculty who note a student’s continued absence in class to report that absence to the enrollment management or financial aid office. Mobilizing enrollment management staff can help prevent a student from dropping out of school — and those who drop out of school before completing their programs are more likely to default on their student loans. Financial aid staff need to know about students who may be withdrawing from classes so they can withhold loan funds that those students won’t need.
In student activities
Does your campus have peer mentoring programs? Make student loan repayment a topic that mentors discuss with students or focus on in activities. I know of some schools whose peer mentors also record financial literacy videos and post them on a school website or YouTube.
In the financial aid office
Enhance your student loan counseling. Incorporate a broad range of financial literacy training in entrance and exit counseling, and add interim student loan counseling that reinforces financial management and student success lessons.
And here’s a way to stay up to date on borrowers’ contact information: Each time a student visits the financial aid office, collect updated phone numbers and email addresses for that student. Regularly requesting that information gets borrowers in the habit of updating their contact information with your school, and it helps keep your records current when you need to conduct borrower outreach to provide repayment counseling.
Need default prevention assistance? Contact USA Funds®.