Working to Curb Default? Enlist Students’ Help

Vernetta FairleyBy Vernetta Fairley, Director of Special Programs

If you’re following the best practice of involving many areas of the campus in your default prevention efforts, are you including students in that mix? If not, you’re missing a valuable resource for driving home messages about debt management, financial literacy and student success.

When trying to effectively communicate to students about the importance of completing their education and repaying their student loans, it’s important to enlist the help of current and former students to spread the word. Students relate to their fellow students, and their message often resonates better than anything a faculty or staff member can do or say.

Here are a few ways to include students in your default prevention efforts:

Peer mentoring. I’m a big believer in this approach, which has been successful at a number of schools. Your students most likely are going to discuss money matters with their peers on campus anyway, so why not make sure they’re hearing from peers through a formal mentoring program that offers guidance based on accurate, relevant information?

Entrance and exit counseling. Student testimonials make a strong statement, so include in loan counseling current and recent students who can speak to the lessons they learned about borrowing for college. These current and former students can provide valuable information about how to successfully manage debt, based on their own money management successes and failures.

Financial literacy presentations. Train a group of students to be financial literacy presenters. Whether in classes or at special events, these students can follow a prescribed set of lessons that provide helpful information about financial literacy and succeeding in higher education.

Need more ideas? Check in with student government, professors, student-employees and alumni relations staff at your institution to find current and former students who can help you with your plans. And a best practices guide outlines how selected schools have provided financial literacy training, including peer mentoring programs.

USA Funds® also offers resources to assist with default prevention, including borrower communication tools, and a financial literacy and student success program that could be part of your student-centered default prevention program. Contact USA Funds to learn more