We’re students. Many of us taking out student loans or utilizing financial assistance to achieve our goal of obtaining a degree. And certainly we’re not alone. There are 37 million students across the country doing the same thing.* And whether you believe the hype about the student loan crisis being the next bubble to burst, paying for college is not an issue that it going to go away.
One tool that I have come across that is trying to tackle this issue is SALT, a creation of the American Student Assistance nonprofit, designed to educate students so that “every student who wants a college degree to get it in a financially responsible way.” While they seem to have several resources available for students and educational institutions (e.g., find scholarships, internships, and jobs; compare student loan borrowing options), they sell one program in particular to colleges to help them help their students. Colleges who have chosen to participate in the Federal Direct Stafford Loan process must keep their student loan default rate low, or risk losing their students’ access to Federal Financial Aid. The program, costing colleges roughly $10,000 over two years (and free for the students) includes a personalized college website for the program, a personalized student loan repayment plan, presentations that education students about responsible money management. The tools are delivered via email and the personalized college website. We are just beginning to use this tool at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, but other colleges and universities already use it to educate their students.
While the SALT program, run by a credible nonprofit, could be a helpful tool for colleges, there are other online tools available to educators that may not cost as much, if anything. For instance, Dollars for College is a new online, interactive site that educates students, beginning at middle school about the process for paying for college (not limited to loans, including scholarships and financial aid).
Both tools could be a resource for educators, students and parents alike as we collectively tackle the challenges of paying for college education. Something we can all agree is worth investing in.