TASFAA Community Blog!

  • 13 May 2014 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    9 Tips to Help Protect Your Students from Identity Theft

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director
    Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

    More than 10 million people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds fall victim to some type of identity theft each year. The majority of identity theft incidents (85 percent) involve fraudulent use of existing credit card or bank account information. Fraudulent use of personal information to open a new account, however, can cause additional stress by creating financial, credit, and relationship issues.

    With existing accounts, financial institutions often discover the fraud and inform victims of the activity. But unauthorized accounts opened fraudulently are frequently not discovered until the victim is contacted by the creditor or receives notice of unpaid invoices.

    Anyone with a Social Security number may be targeted for identity theft. Credit reports should not exist for young children. If you find one does, this is a red flag that may indicate fraudulent activity. The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking your child's credit report beginning around age 16, and every six to 12 months until they turn 18.

    Even if victims of identity theft don’t experience financial loss from these crimes, fraudulent information and accounts that remain on their credit report may impact interest rates or financial opportunities they may qualify for, costing victims for years to come.

    Teaching your students simple, common-sense steps they can take to protect their personal information, assets, and credit score satisfies an essential part of their financial education, and helps to safeguard their financial future. Direct  your students to Knowledge Center on mygreatlakes.org, or to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information for additional resources about Identity Theft.

    9 Tips to Help You Avoid Identity Theft

    • 1.    Pay attention to all correspondence you receive to be sure you catch invoices for accounts you may not have authorized.
    • 2.    Check your financial and health care statements each month for fraudulent charges, and immediately contact the financial institution, merchant, or health care provider about discrepancies.
    • 3.    Protect personal information such as your full name, birth date, Social Security number, and financial and medical account numbers. Beware of phone, online, or email scams that ask for any of your personal information. Get a shredder and be sure to use it.
    • 4.    Closely monitor your credit by requesting your free annual credit reports from http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order your annual report from each of the three major credit bureausundefinedEquifax, Experian, and TransUnionundefinedat the same time, or you can opt to receive one every four months to review activity more frequently.
    • 5.    Use secure Wi-fi when accessing sensitive information online. Also be sure to check that the site is secure by looking for "https://" in the site's URL before entering personal information
    • 6.    Use available two-step account verification and strong passwords, and don't leave passwords where they may be discovered. Don't use the same password for all of your online accounts.
    • 7.    Avoid paying for identity protection services, which may use deceptive marketing practices. Instead protect your accounts and check your statements and reports on your own.
    • 8.    If you think your Social Security number may have been compromised, putting a security freeze on your credit reports denies new creditors access to your file if anyone tries to open new accounts in your name. Keep in mind that this includes you, too, unless you contact the bureau.  
    • 9.    Set up text and email alerts for your accounts to inform you when unusual or unauthorized activity may be occurring.

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.

  • 09 May 2014 9:29 AM | Anonymous

    Analyzing Your Student Loan Data

    Sign up today!  TSAC's Default Aversion Field Reps will be presenting a “hands-on” training session for analyzing federal student loan data from NSLDS School Portfolio Reports.  The session will be held Wednesday, May 21st from 10:00am to 3:00pm,  at TSAC in Nashville.  Lunch will be provided. 

     

    Space is limited so contact Jill Vickers at Jill.Vickers@tn.gov  to reserve your place.  Participating schools are asked to  bring their own laptop, on which a copy of their School Portfolio Report has been downloaded from EDconnect.

     

  • 02 May 2014 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    Return of Title IV (R2T4): It's as Easy as Pi

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director

    R2T4 and the mathematical constant pi have something in common. Each of them is a simple concept that can be difficult to fully comprehend. For that reason, we're happy to give you a hand by simplifying R2T4, and pointing you toward other helpful resources. (You'll want to see a math professor for help with understanding pi.)

    The logic for Return of Title IV (R2T4) is straightforward: if a student ceases attendance prior to the planned ending date, he or she may not be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds they were scheduled to receive. Where it gets more complicated is figuring out the definitions and calculations for the return of funds, depending on whether the academic program is term-based, with or without modules, or non-term clock or credit hour.

    Modular programs, which offer students flexibility to enter and withdraw from school during a defined period of enrollment, create unique challenges. R2T4 calculation errors, among the more common audit and program review findings, can be costly and inconvenient. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) suggests that performing these calculations accurately is easier if you:

    • ·         Use comprehensive systems to monitor and accurately track the number of days completed in the payment period.
    • ·         Implement effective procedures for tracking enrollments and monitoring deadlines related to R2T4.
    • ·         Establish communication alerts between campus offices involved with monitoring student attendance.

    Timely and accurate R2T4 calculations may allow student loan customers who don't return to school within the grace period to experience the full advantage of their grace period, which can help lower your school's default rates. Regardless, to allow students to make informed decisions about withdrawing from all classes, you'll want to clearly communicate the following in your consumer information:

    • ·         Requirements and procedures for officially withdrawing from the school
    • ·         The school's tuition refund policy
    • ·         The treatment of Title IV funds when a student withdraws

    There are many resources available to help with making accurate R2T4 calculations. Session 21 from the 2013 Federal Student Aid conference provides helpful definitions, clarification, case studies, and other resources, such as information about signing up for ED's free R2T4 on the Web (https://fsawebenroll.ed.gov/PMEnroll/index.jsp). You may also find it helpful to participate in free trainings, such as a SmartSessions™ webinar Great Lakes offers on Credit-based Programs and R2T4, or others that are available.

     

     

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.

  • 02 May 2014 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    13 Tips to Relieve Spring Stress in the Financial Aid Office

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director


    While closing the door on winter should be a relief, spring brings one of the busiest seasons to the financial aid office. If you're feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, check out 13 tips we've compiled to help you streamline your work, control your environment, and take care of yourself to optimize your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

    1)    Minimize distractions so that you can complete important projects. Forward your phone to voice mail for a brief amount of time, and turn off email and mobile device notifications to minimize interruptions and create concentrated, productive time. Checking the most difficult or important tasks off your list gives you a huge mental boost, leaving you in a better mindset to handle all the other things that crop up.

    2)    Don't let email clutter slow you down. Create folders to organize your emails as you get them, and use the search feature in Outlook to find them more quickly. If you're working in an Outlook environment and have colleagues who overuse the "reply to all" option, look into the NoReplyAll Outlook add-in to help your office reduce email clutter. 

    3)    Leverage existing channels to help your students help themselves. Record a walk-through training of your online counseling tool, for example, or provide a quick tutorial at orientation, and then use your office's social media channels to let students know how it may be accessed to save you - and them - time.

    4)    Know when to go old school. If you've gone back and forth three times on something via email, pick up the phone instead, and get it sorted out in a real conversation. Better yet, get up from your desk and visit a colleague if they’re not too far away.

    5)    Feel too busy to take lunch? Low blood sugar does not help concentration, mood, or energy, making it a bad idea all-around to skip lunch. If you must, keep working during the quiet time when others are at lunch, but be sure to take a lunch break when they return. And, if you're having a particularly rough morning, a short time away with a colleague for lunch may help your perspective or even identify a way to ease the stress.

    6)    Investing time to learn to use your tools can have a huge, repeat payoff in time saved later. For example, consider using a Microsoft Word merge feature that lets you send a document to multiple people, allows them to make changes, and then merges everything back into one document, letting you select the changes you want to keep.

    7)    Take a walk outside or do some simple exercises at your desk, like breathing or stretching, to get the blood flowing. It will give you a fresh outlook, renewed energy, and release some of the tension that may have built up in your body while you worked. A few minutes invested can make you immensely more productive.

    8)    Automate repeatable tasks and simplify projects by using shortcuts, bookmarks, and speed-dial for your most frequently used resources. Create templates for your most commonly used documents. Record work processes on paper so they can be shared easily with others who may be able to help with them. Look for apps that reduce your workload. Financial Aid Director Scott Cline, for example, has been able to toss out the legal pad and sticky notes with an app called Drafts for iOS.

    9)    Not everything can be handled electronically in the aid office. Set up a left-to-right workflow for paperwork on your desk. It comes in on the left, is processed in the middle, and goes out on the right.

    10) Take a tip from one of your colleagues, who shared this suggestion in our Listening Sessions. Set up an account with SignUp Genius and share the link with students who need to make an appointment with you. With students scheduling their own appointments, you'll save timeundefinedand with automatic reminders, students are more likely to keep the appointment they set.

    11) Laughing and smiling release chemicals in your body that improve mood and energy. If you've ever laughed in the most stressful of situations, you may remember how good it felt. Looking for and acknowledging the humor in any stressful situation with a laugh or a smile, even to yourself, helps you keep things in perspectiveundefinedand keep going.

    12) Pick up other tips through free training. Consider signing up for Great Lakes' May SmartSessions™ webinar, Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management, or find other, similar free trainings that may provide relief for you and your stressed colleagues.

    13) At the end of the day, take a few minutes to clear the electronic and paper clutter, so that tomorrow you can avoid the aftermath of today. A fresh start offers the promise of a better day.

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at https://schools.mygreatlakes.org/.

  • 24 Apr 2014 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Five things every default management plan needs

    Submitted by Doug Savage, TG Senior Regional Account Executive

     

     

    This past March, the higher education industry let out a collective groan as draft 2- and 3-year cohort default rates (CDR) were released. Draft rates aren’t made public, but the last official rates undefined made public in September 2012 undefined were on the rise with the 2-year CDR at 9.1 percent (for fiscal year 2010) and the first official 3-year measurement coming in at 13.4 percent (for fiscal year 2009). By all indications, that rise should continue, given the steep growth in student debt and a sluggish labor market.

     

     

    If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of student loan default, it’s that the increase is forcing many schools to candidly evaluate how well they support their student borrowers. It’s also motivating schools to expand efforts in things like debt management undefined to find more ways to send the message: “We’ve got your back. Here are some things you can do now and later to succeed in repayment.”

     

    A school’s default management plan typically lays the blueprint for campus self-assessment and borrower education. Schools sometimes see the default management plan in a negative light, since the Department requires the plan for schools with high default rates. But a good plan can serve a strategic purpose. It can be the key to unlocking campus collaboration and getting many departments invested and working on default prevention. It can spur research on why students default. And it can lay out a comprehensive vision of how to tame default and promote a campus culture that champions the student borrower. Also, upper management is more likely to see value in the effort and throw weight into the project.

     

     

    Five elements of a good default management plan

    You don’t have to build a plan from scratch. The Department of Education provides a template on which a school can model its own plan. The Department advocates attacking default throughout the life of the loan. This means educating students in their options before they borrow and supporting them as they repay, especially if their loans enter delinquency. Here are some other suggestions to make your school’s plan more robust.

     

    ·                     School self-assessment undefined An institutional self-assessment can go in many directions. Ideally, it should provide a baseline for your school’s default prevention efforts, showing what your school does to tackle default and how well it performs. To find this baseline, you could consider how effectively your school helps students graduate on time and ready to manage loan repayment. You might put together a history of your institutions’ default rates. And you could talk with students, faculty, and staff about what your school can do to better engage students so they feel supported and prepared when repayment time comes. Other areas of self-assessment could include enrollment management practices, financial literacy education, and even campus life and culture.

     

    ·         Analysis of borrower default undefined An analysis of trends in default could be part of a school’s self-assessment, but it could stand by itself also. Why? An analysis will likely contain the seeds of expanded or new efforts in helping borrowers succeed in repayment, and a separate section could highlight these opportunities. Generally, an effective statistical analysis will look for trends among borrowers whose loans enter default. For example, borrowers who leave school prematurely without a degree may be prone to delinquency and then default. Other factors that schools might consider: grade point average, Pell-eligibility, part-time enrollment status, enrollment in a particular program of study, local labor market conditions, and borrowing levels by socioeconomic background.

     

    ·                     Tactics and strategies undefined The heart of any good plan is the section that lays out what a school will do to better manage default. In the “Tactics and Strategies” area, the school should use its default analysis and self-assessment as a foundation on which to recommend new or expanded initiatives that address weak points in borrower support. For example, if borrowers without a degree tend to default more, schools could consider how to maintain students through degree completion. Or if data shows that borrowers from a given major have high rates of default, a school could consider how to smooth the path to employment for this group.

     

     

    ·                     Default taskforce undefined It’s a good idea to get multiple departments involved in default prevention, since many departments can affect the issue. Creating a taskforce made up of representatives from such departments as admissions, the registrar, financial aid, faculty, and other areas is key to the success of any school’s default prevention. The school’s default management plan could designate members for the taskforce and define their areas of responsibility with regard to default prevention.

     

     

    ·                     Success measures undefined Plan developers should consider factors that contribute to default, establish measures that address these factors, and then set goals for these measures. These goals should be evaluated periodically to show progress or the need for improvement. As an example, a school could require students to take a certain number of debt management trainings. Or it could commit to reducing default for a segment of borrowers by a given percentage.  The value of putting such goals on paper is that doing so makes clear what success in default prevention looks like for the institution.

     

     

    Resources to tap now

    If you’re looking for an example default management plan, the Department of Education offers a comprehensive one, which can be downloaded through the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. You could also do an online search to find examples. Or you could turn a third-party servicer that provides default prevention services for fee.

     

    Doug Savage is a senior regional account executive with TG serving schools in TASFAA. You can reach Doug at (800) 252-9743, ext. 6711, or by email at doug.savage@tgslc.org. Additional information about TG can be found online at www.TG.org.

  • 24 Apr 2014 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    May 2014 SmartSessions

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

    Quality customer service in the aid office is critical to your institution. Do you know how to train your team to provide a customer-centric approach? Comprehensive customer service tools empower your staff to engage with students, solve problems proactively, and improve results. A solid training program is critical to this effort. Come to this session to learn how to build and implement a customer centric training program in your office.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Understanding a customer-centric approach to service
    • ·         Designing and implementing an effective training program
    • ·         Reinforcing attitudes and behaviors for continuous improvement

    May 6th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

     

     

    May 22nd @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

     

     

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

    NSLDS provides comprehensive data that you can use to verify financial aid history and counsel borrowers about repayment strategies. Do you know how to find the information quickly and efficiently?  If you are not familiar with its functionality you might miss important tools and overlook information. This session will show you the NSLDS functionality and highlight the core components of this powerful database. 

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Understanding the purpose of NSLDS
    • ·         Demonstrating NSLDS functionality
    • ·         Reviewing Awarding Parameters
    • ·         Decoding Symbols and Panels

    May 8th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

     

     

    May 15th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

     

     

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

    You can’t change aid processing deadlines, but you can change how you approach your work. Learn to make the most effective and efficient use of your time and get the most out of your workday. Spend an hour now to save time later. Learn about methods and tools, including eating the frog first, that can help you make the most effective and efficient use of your time.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Analyzing your behaviors and habits
    • ·         Top five time management mistakes
    • ·         Developing a personal plan

    May 8th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

     

     

    May 20th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

     

     

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

    Do you feel stressed when it’s time for your annual A133 audit? Would being selected for a program review cause you anxiety? This session will explain what you can do to be well-prepared and proactive, and limit your liability. You’ll leave this session with a more organized approach and a thorough understanding of audits and program reviews.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         The types of audits
    • ·         Possible triggers
    • ·         Proactive preparation
    • ·         What to do when you’ve been selected
    • ·         What to expect

    May 1th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

     

     

    May 28th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

     

     

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

    Protecting student privacy is paramount. Understand what needs to be included in your school’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy and gain a working knowledge of how to ensure FERPA privacy requirements are met in real-world scenarios. Consider this course not just an introduction to the basics of FERPA, but also an in-depth guide to understanding the rights of students and their parents regarding student education records. The materials presented have been vetted by our privacy specialists to ensure that you get the most accurate and comprehensive assistance available.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Review of final rules
    • Student and parent rights and FERPA
    • Right to access, review, and amend an education record
    • Compliance, complaints, and enforcement
    • Target Audience:

    May 6th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

     

     

    May 20th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

     

     

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

    Return of Title IV (R2T4) doesn't have to be daunting. This session walks through a credit-based example to help you understand what it is and when it applies so you can effectively counsel students and help them make informed decisions about withdrawing from school.

    Specific topics include:

    R2T4 basics: what it is, when it applies, the formula components for credit-based programs

    Reviewing a hand calculation

    Post-withdrawal disbursements

    May 21st @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

     

     

    May 29th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

     

     

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

    Managing default prevention activity is important to your institution but requires resources and time. We can show you how to improve your default rate with just a little extra effort each month.  By dedicating just 60 minutes each month, you can lower your school’s cohort default rate, and facilitate your ultimate goalundefinedhelping students avoid the negative consequences of loan delinquency and default.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Options for contacting late stage delinquent borrowers - emails, letters, and phone calls
    • Promoting IBR and Pay As You Earn to early and mid-stage delinquent borrowers
    • Reaching out to borrowers during their grace period

    May 7th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

     

     

    May 14th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

     

     

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

    Professional Judgment is helps you target funds to students with exceptional need. But Professional Judgment principles must be applied wisely and responsibly in order to be effective and compliant. 

    This participatory session reviews complex case studies to show how you can help students get the aid they need by making adjustments to either the expected family contribution (EFC) or the student’s cost of attendance.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Why and when to use professional judgment
    • Permissible actions and required documentation
    • Common scenarios – loss of income, changes in assets, extraordinary expenses
    • Dependency override
    • Maintaining a professional judgment policy

    May 13th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

     

     

    May 22nd @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

     

     

    Difficult Conversations: How to Manage Conflict While Providing Customer Service

    Does your front line staff know how to deal with difficult situations in positive ways? This webinar will demonstrate proven techniques for diffusing conflict while providing great customer service.  The financial aid process can be frustrating and emotionally challenging for both parents and students. This heightened anxiety can play itself out in the aid office when parents and students direct anger and frustration at counselors or front line staff. Your teams’ ability to diffuse a difficult conversation and create a problem-solving approach is crucial to your customer service effort.

    Presenter:

    Shannon Patterson, M.S., Instructor in Business Administration and Conflict Management at Argosy University.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Bridging conflict management and customer service
    • Depersonalizing anger and emotion
    • Using reflective listening to gain control
    • Strategies for problem-solving that result in trust

    May 15th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Difficult Conversations: How to Manage Conflict While Providing Customer Service

     

     

    Your First Day as New Director: 5 Things you need to do to Ensure Success

    Are you a new Financial Aid Director or aspire to be one? New aid directors face unique challenges in their first days on the job. This session will help you successfully transition to your new role.

    Presenters:

    Janet Dodson, Associate Director, Tuition Exchange, and Past NASFAA Chair

    Gail Holt, Dean of Financial Aid, Amherst College

    Specific topics covered include:

    • First day essentials: security updates and reports to review
    • Assessing your office culture – your team and your peers
    • Identifying roles and responsibilities
    • Securing resources

    May 29th @ 12:00  PM, Eastern time

    Your First Day as New Director: 5 Things you need to do to Ensure Success

     

     

    Successfully Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace

    The financial aid office often includes employees from the Boomers to the Millennials resulting in various work styles.  Do you know how to manage this diversity and build a strong team?  The complexities of working in a multi-generational environment can be rewarding if you understand how and why different age groups approach and value their work.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Understanding what each generation values 
    • Learning how different generations communicate: face to face or click to click
    • Managing conflict that results from the various styles
    • Learning to value our differences

    May 7th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Successfully Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace

  • 24 Apr 2014 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    The Campus Financial Aid Office Pressure Cooker

     

    Submitted by Ted Lannan, Inceptia Market Research Director

     

     

    Inceptia’s release of their 2013 online national survey has garnered striking results. Inspired by a pioneering 25 year-old California stress study and built upon the indispensable findings of surveys such as the Parthenon Groups’ 2013 release, “How Can Improved College Services Better Retain Students?”, Inceptia’s recently completed stress study survey has uncovered a correlation between stress levels in nationwide financial aid offices, employee productivity, and student/borrower dissatisfaction that is difficult to dispute.

     

     

    Briefly stated, the results of the survey show a critical need for relief. A 2008 NASFAA survey of Financial Aid Administrators’ Job Satisfaction reported that more than 96 percent are proud of their job in the financial aid office, however nearly two-thirds of survey respondents regard the level of stress in a financial aid office to be different - more intense - than other offices. More than 60 percent of financial aid officers report inadequate budgets and number of staff. Partnered with high-stress indicators like a perpetually growing bump in financial aid applications, the expansion of the Pell Grant program, consistent regulatory paperwork and policy changes, and increasing demand for quality student-FAO face time, a measurable recipe for disaster is in the making.

     

     

    Inceptia’s stress study breaks down these high-stress indicators into four “pain point” categories delineated by the Parthenon Groups’ 2013 study. Each category is studied empirically through respondent answers and compared with foundational survey studies of the past to measure growth over time, current relevancy, and create attainable solutions for institutions.

     

     

    The conclusion is clear: financial aid offices are in need of reinforcements in order to keep up with demand, and barring that reality, student borrowers and their families suffer the consequences of less-than-adequate services regarding their education, financial capabilities and future success.

    To find definitive solutions as to how can your institution can alleviate Financial Aid Office woes while offering students innovative solutions to their financial aid needs, download Inceptia’s full brief for more detail here.

  • 09 Apr 2014 10:47 AM | Anonymous

    It Takes a Campus to Prevent a Default: Rallying the Troops to Promote
    Financial Education


    Submitted by Carissa Uhlman, Inceptia Vice President of Student Success

     

     

    In part one of this article, we discussed how to present your case for financial education and gain upper level support. Here, we look at the equally important task of gaining the support of your departmental colleagues, and how to keep them engaged.

     

     

    Who: Self-interest gains the most interest

    Human nature dictates that appealing to one’s self-interest is a powerful motivator. With this in mind, by helping other offices to see the benefits of promoting financial literacy, you’re likely to win over some enthusiastic ambassadors. Here are some suggested messages to motivate staff and faculty on your campus.

     

     

    Admissions

    A robust financial education program could be the unique campus resource that sets your school apart from the rest. Work with your admissions team to provide them with program specifics such as how the program is administered, how many students have gone through the program, and the resources you provide. Make a brief survey available to prospective students that measures their level of financial literacy; it may help to drive home the value of the program, and be a factor in the decision making process. Admissions representatives also have the unique job of having the initial conversation about cost and career earnings; make sure your messages are simpatico.

     

     

    Student Advising

    If your financial education program calls for students to determine how they will pay for college (which it should), what their expected starting salary will be (per DOL statistics), and what they need to do to remain in good standing (think SAP and enrollment status), they will be one step up on Maslow’s hierarchy. Having those initial needs met should allow your students to better focus on goal-setting and academic planning. In turn, your advisors will jump for joy at the chance to form a developmental advising relationship with students. Additionally, training advisors to incorporate financial aid requirements into academic planning is a form of just-in-time counseling that further enforces the goals of your program, and strengthens the advisor-advisee connection.

     

     

    Career Services

    Speaking of expected salaries, career advisors know all about gainful employment. Those who assist students in career planning are keenly aware of the unrealized correlation between student loan debt and expected earnings. How much easier would those conversations be if students had already completed this analysis themselves, through your financial education program, and had adjusted their borrowing and/or major accordingly? Your Career Services partners would be a powerful ally in reinforcing these concepts.

     

     

    Alumni Services   

    An ASA study links alumni giving to how well students feel their alma mater provided education regarding loans, debt management, and repayment options (2011). Additionally, with graduated borrowers buried under average debt loads of $29,400, most are too busy treading water to even begin to contemplate giving back to their schools (2013). It should not take great convincing for alumni officers to make the connection between a strong financial education program and strong alumni giving. They may help sponsor an event or workshop, and may even be able to solicit alumni guest speakers. Having former students, especially those within the financial field, carry your message to current students can be quite effective.

     

     

    Faculty

    Knowing that student stress level and school abandonment are most often related to finances, you can make the argument that financial education contributes to a more focused and full classroom. As they are often the first to hear about a student’s intent, instructors should be encouraged to make referrals as necessary to ensure students can make informed decisions. Faculty in the economics and finance departments may be valuable resources to your program for content development, guest speakers, and to potentially integrate your program into the classroom.

     

     

    These are just a few examples of how to gain buy-in; a myriad of other reasons can be found to champion departments to your cause. From the business office to records to student life, there is a common link to be found if you focus on what appeals to each.

     

     

    Call to Action: Empower your ambassadors

    Finally, once you have achieved widespread support, you must find ways to keep your team engaged and empowered to carry the message. Provide literature and advertising about your program so they can make student referrals; train appropriate staff and faculty on key financial education concepts that directly link to their job functions; partner with others to sponsor student events and workshops for increased participation. And always provide opportunities to join the movement.

     

     

    Financial education should be a forum open to all. You may be surprised to find many who share your enthusiasm and passion, and are just waiting in the wings for someone to start the movement.

     

     

    If you have tips or suggestions for turning financial literacy into a campus initiative, we’d like to hear your thoughts. Email carissau@inceptia.org.

     

     

    To learn more about how Inceptia can help you train and prepare your campus for financial education, please contact us via email at inceptiasales@inceptia.org or dial 888.529.2028.

  • 09 Apr 2014 10:44 AM | Anonymous

    Please join us!  The TSAC DAFRs will be hosting a one hour webinar, Basic Introduction to EDconnect and NSLDS, on Thursday, April 17th at 10:00 a.m.(CDT)/11:00 a.m. (EDT).  This session will overview setting up and using EDconnect to access National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) report resources to aid in your institution’s efforts to reduce student loan defaults.  Email Jill Vickers at Jill.Vickers@tn.gov to reserve your spot today!

     

    Debby Nuchols

    Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation

    Default Aversion Field Representative, E. Tennessee

     

    Suite 1510,, Parkway Towers

    404 James Robertson Parkway

    Nashville, TN 37243

    Tele:  865.599.7459

    debby.nuchols@tn.gov

  • 09 Apr 2014 10:38 AM | Anonymous

    It Takes a Campus to Prevent a Default: Gathering Internal Support to Promote Financial Education


    Submitted by Carissa Uhlman, Inceptia Vice President of Student Success

     

     

    When I first began working in financial aid, I was amazed at how much I did not know about the student aid process. My time in academics, records, admissions and student services had never required that I learn anything beyond how to file the FAFSA; the rest of the details were to be covered by the experts in the financial aid office. It was only after I became part of their ranks that I realized what a travesty it was that more offices weren’t made aware of financial aid policy, not only to help educate students, but to make the most of our clearly interconnected working relationship.

         

                  

    Fast forward several years, and I now see the same situation playing out as it applies to financial education. Although important to all, the execution of a financial education program almost always falls squarely on the shoulders of the financial aid department. For an all hands on deck approach, such a massive and critical undertaking is daunting and may simply be a system overload for one department to manage alone. Here are the reasons and data as to why financial education is everyone’s job, and how to gain buy-in for campus-wide collaborative efforts.

     

     

    Why: Doing well by doing good

    Schools need students to survive, plain and simple. Thus a renewed focus on retention is a hot topic on many campuses. But seldom do discussions address the influence that external factors (like money) can have on student retention levels. This is surprising, given that financial pressure is the number one reason that students leave school (Chiang, 2007). An absence of consideration for this leading cause is presumably because a student’s finances are considered to be outside the college’s sphere of influence, or too taboo to discuss. However, an ESDA study shows that students disagree and are looking for schools to address this need: 100% of respondents feel their schools should provide financial education, but 79% find school efforts inadequate (2010). Clearly, higher education is doing itself a huge disservice by viewing student retention through a purely academic lens and not utilizing a holistic approach.

     

     

    Additionally, 89% of survey respondents indicated that they would have a more favorable view of schools with financial literacy programs (NFEC, 2013). So by addressing the number one drop-out factor, helping students understand how to  manage money while balancing education costs, and providing comprehensive  financial education, schools may be able to see an increase in retention rates and a competitive advantage over schools with no financial education programs. All while doing immeasurable good for the students they serve.

     

     

    How: Help create top-down momentum

    Let’s face it, your program has a much increased chance of success if your leadership team makes student financial literacy a priority.  And yet that support is hard to come by; just ask any financial aid director who has been banging this drum for years.

     

     

    Fortunately, those at the top are usually motivated by numbers and hard data. Even more fortuitous is the recent focus on shopping sheets, college ratings systems, and other proposed legislation that has put the financial aid office in the spotlight. These developments, in addition to the aforementioned retention facts, can be used to spark an interest at the higher level. Some key points to consider:

     

    • Help upper administration to understand how cohort default rates work, where yours currently stands, and the consequences of an increased rate. It is possible that they are not aware of the effect of CDR on an institution’s Title IV eligibility.
    • Highlight specific components of your program that would focus on default prevention (i.e. mandatory entrance counseling every year, for every student) and decrease the amount of students who over borrow (i.e. staggered disbursement schedules). With shopping sheets allowing students to compare default rates and median borrowing amounts, it is important for leaders to understand how increasing financial literacy can help to improve those numbers.
    • Stress the advantages to be gained from a proactive approach.  A number of pending new legislative proposals will continue to require schools to take more responsibility for student borrowing and default management:
      • The college ratings system (Pay for Performance) will evaluate factors such as keeping tuition low and helping students avoid excessive loan debt to determine a school’s financial aid eligibility.
      • The Smarter Borrowing Act would hold schools accountable for entrance and exit counseling requirements.
      • The Protect Student Borrowers Act would require schools with high default rates to pay a penalty that represents a portion of their students’ defaulted loan amounts.

     

     

    By forming your argument for a financial education program and presenting your case for approval, you will have taken two big steps in positioning your program for success. In part two of this article, we will address how to inspire and empower other campus departments to become program ambassadors.

     

     

    If you have tips or suggestions for turning financial literacy into a campus initiative, we’d like to hear your thoughts. Email carissau@inceptia.org.

     

     

    To learn more about how Inceptia can help you train and prepare your campus for financial education, please contact us via email at inceptiasales@inceptia.org or dial 888.529.2028.

     

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