TASFAA Community Blog
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 email@example.com. Additional information about TG can be found online at www.TG.org.
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:
May 6th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
May 22nd @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 8th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
NSLDS: I Made It In, Now What?
May 15th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 8th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
May 20th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 1th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
May 28th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 6th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
May 20th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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
May 21st @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
May 29th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 7th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
May 14th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 13th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
May 22nd @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
Shannon Patterson, M.S., Instructor in Business Administration and Conflict Management at Argosy University.
May 15th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
Janet Dodson, Associate Director, Tuition Exchange, and Past NASFAA Chair
Gail Holt, Dean of Financial Aid, Amherst College
May 29th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
May 7th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time
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.
It Takes a Campus to Prevent a Default: Rallying the Troops to Promote
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about how Inceptia can help you train and prepare your campus for financial education, please contact us via email at email@example.com or dial 888.529.2028.
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!
Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
Default Aversion Field Representative, E. Tennessee
Suite 1510,, Parkway Towers
404 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
It Takes a Campus to Prevent a Default: Gathering Internal Support to Promote Financial Education
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:
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.
Ann Tinnon was my colleague and one of my best friends. In 1993, we lost her due to a brain tumor. That year, to honor Ann and her dedication and work with TASFAA, the “TASFAA Presidential Scholarship” was renamed the “Ann Tinnon Memorial Scholarship”. Each year the TASFAA President presents the scholarship to a student at their school. Students are always so grateful for the support. The Ann Tinnon Memorial Scholarship is certainly a worthwhile cause.
Ann was already in the financial aid profession when I first started my career as a Director of Financial Aid. Early years we didn’t have much money in our budgets for travel and we would share rooms so that we could attend conferences and workshops. Just imagineundefinedhow many pairs of shoes could four women possibly have in one room?
Ann was TASFAA President in 1982-83. She was a wonderful presenter, trainer and loved helping students. She was a loyal and supportive member of our profession. Let’s keep her memory alive by donating to the Ann Tinnon Memorial Scholarship.
Ann Tinnon’s contributions to serving students were the focus of her professional life. Ann realized the importance of developing lines of communication among the various professional associations that focused on helping students in their transition from high school to postsecondary education. Ann was not only a leader in TASFAA, but accepted leadership roles in the Tennessee Personnel and Guidance Association (now called the Tennessee Counseling Association) and the Tennessee College Personnel Association (now part of TCA). Through her leadership, joint meetings were held and TASFAA membership was encouraged to be active in the other associations to coordinate the efforts to serve high school students in Tennessee.
While Director of Financial Aid at U.T. Chattanooga, Ann was a strong supporter of TSAC. During the spring state legislative session in 1985, a national guarantor made an attempt to take over TSAC legislatively going around the TSAC Board, TASFAA and THEC. The newly appointed Executive Director of TSAC was a neophyte when it came to the state legislature and was extremely concerned about the impact on students and the agency. It was Ann that said, “Have you talked to my friend, Paul Starnes?” At that time Representative Starnes was Chairman of the House Education Committee and through that introduction to TSAC’s Executive Director, the legislation was stopped and TSAC protected.
Ann worked in public higher education and after retiring from UTC, she worked in financial aid at a private, for-profit institution in Chattanooga and continued her service to students and the profession.
Ann was actively involved in the training of new aid officers for TASFAA, training high school counselors and college admissions officers. She was a kind, compassionate friend to students and fellow professionals. It is very appropriate that TASFAA honors her memory with the Ann Tinnon Scholarship.
Shared by Ron Gambill
Ann Tinnon was an amazing woman.
She touched the lives of those of us who had the honor to call her a friend. In my case, not only was she my friend but she was my boss when I first entered the world of financial aid. When I became a member of the financial aid community she welcomed me into the profession as did many of her friends.
Ann often said "we work hard and we play just as hard". It wasn't unusual for us to work all day, leave the office, get something to eat and then go to a campus event such as a basketball game or a play offered by the theater department. She had us all feeling like family.
Ann loved her family and friends. She was a frequent traveler all across the U.S. and Europe and always had interesting stories to share when she returned. Besides travelling, her other passions were shopping and needlepoint. When we travelled to financial aid workshops and conferences, it was assumed that shopping was on the agenda. She loved to laugh and could tell the funniest stories about things that happened to her.
This wonderful woman shared with me her love of financial aid and her commitment to help others to be able to go to college. She was my boss and became my friend and mentor. I wish that those of you, who didn't have the opportunity to know her, could have had the chance to just be in her presence. I miss her still and when I do I always smile, she was a joy to know and I am a better person for it.
Shared by Darolyn Porter
TASFAA’s Fundraising Event
Each year, TASFAA chooses a worthy cause to support during the Annual Conference. Our fundraising event this year is one that is close to all of our hearts. Each year, funds are appropriated in our budget for the TASFAA President to award a modest scholarship to a student of his/her choice.
A goal of our TASFAA President, Jeff Gerkin, is to work to ensure the perpetuity of the scholarship by raising money with the possibility of establishing an endowment.
For many years, the award was simply the “TASFAA Presidential Scholarship”. That changed in 1993 when TASFAA suddenly lost a dear friend and colleague, Ann Tinnon. In her memory, the TASFAA Board changed the name to the “Ann Tinnon Memorial Scholarship”. You can read more about her on the TASFAA blog.
We need your help. There will be a Silent Auction set up in the Vender Area of the conference and we need items to be auctioned. Here are a few examples of possible auction items:
Any item that you feel could raise money or be a benefit for our cause would be great.
Please send the name of the item along with a brief description if necessary to me, Sandra Rockett firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can send a picture, that would help us with the advance publicity.
We think this could be a lot of fun. Please take time to think about donating an item. However, if not an item please plan to visit the Silent Auction during the conference to place your bid.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sandra Rockett, Chair
Contact Us: email@example.com