By Angela Henry, Strada Education Network
We know that “one and done” financial education for students is not enough. You need to consistently communicate throughout the stages of the student lifecycle, providing education on relevant topics at the right time.
Stage 1: Application and First 90 days of school
· Look at your entrance counseling process. Your program may be meeting the regulatory requirements, but is it providing students with the information they need to set them off on the right foot?
· Evaluate your financial literacy efforts. Are you providing students and their families access to the appropriate money management education to make a financial plan while they are going through application process?
· Assess your packaging strategy.
· Encourage students to complete a budgeting worksheet to understand their resources and expenses.
· Help students research outside scholarships.
Stage 2: In-school period
· Emphasize the student’s responsibility to borrow only what he or she needs and to spend that money wisely.
· Look for opportunities to integrate money management education into the student's academic program.
· Help your students access their National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) account.
· Talk to students about their loan needs for the entire length of their program, rather than thinking of borrowing as a once a year decision.
· Don’t wait for exit counseling to remind students of repayment options.
Stage 3: Final year and program completion:
· Ensure sure students register with their servicer(s) and establish initial contact.
· Provide student the link to the NSLDS and help them find a listing of all of their loans.
· Emphasize the importance of selecting the right repayment plan for their situation.
· Remind borrowers that, as their circumstances and income change, they can make additional principal payments or change their repayment plan.
Stage 4: Post-graduation (or withdrawal):
· Communicate with borrowers during grace period to let them know that you are there to help, and if they run into difficulty making payments, they should contact you.
· Provide students who withdrew without completing their programs information on getting back in school.
If you need assistance with borrower outreach, consider a third-party cohort management solution.