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U.S. Department of Education Announces Loan Counseling Experiment and New College Completion Toolkit

By on December 19, 2016
U.S. Department of Education Announces Loan Counseling Experiment and New College Completion Toolkit

Earning a college degree or credential is one of the best investments students can make for themselves and their families. Each year, millions of students enter college, and many of those students receive Federal Pell Grants, Direct Loans, and other federal financial aid that helps make their educational aspirations a reality. Yet many students lack timely and relevant information about financial aid to guide their borrowing decisions each year; and too many leave college with debt but no degree, significantly increasing their risk of defaulting on their student loans. Loan counseling can provide students with critical information about their rights and responsibilities as borrowers and help them to better understand options for managing repayment after they leave school. Unfortunately, there is limited information about what works in loan counseling and its effects among different groups of students.

Today, building upon the Obama Administration’s historic investments and major progress to make college more affordable and accessible for American families, the Department announced a new experiment to identify promising loan counseling practices that can help students make the decisions that are right for them. Fifty-one postsecondary institutions across the nation are invited to participate in an experiment to rigorously test the effectiveness of requiring loan counseling more often than the current statutorily required one-time entrance and one-time exit counseling and different counseling tools and approaches. As part of the experiment, these institutions have chosen to use one of the following: the Department’s loan counseling tool (FACT), third-party counseling services, or their own institutionally developed counseling. This experiment will enable the Department to determine what types of additional counseling are most effective in boosting repayment outcomes and their impact on helping students manage their debt.

“It’s important for students to make good decisions about their student loan borrowing,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “Students at these institutions will receive proactive and ongoing counseling and they will gain tools to better understand and manage their own finances. This experiment will yield important information about whether additional counseling improves student outcomes, including program completion and loan repayment.”

Thirty-five of the invited institutions are public two-year institutions and 14 are public four-year schools; in addition, one private nonprofit four-year institution and one proprietary institution are invited to participate. At each institution, half of the 100,000 participating students will be assigned to a “treatment group” to receive the additional loan counseling, while the remaining half will be assigned to a “control group” that will continue to receive only the statutorily required entrance and exit counseling. The Department expects to continue the experiment for several years, collecting data on important borrower outcomes to conduct a rigorous evaluation. The evaluation will seek to determine whether the required additional loan counseling:

  • Improves students’ decision-making about how much to borrow;
  • Promotes successful repayment of students loans, including reductions in delinquencies and defaults; and
  • Has an impact on students’ academic performance, such as progression through school and completion.
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A list of the institutions that will be invited to participate in the Loan Counseling experiment is below.

Additionally, today the Department is releasing a toolkit that highlights promising practices from a dozen schools across the country that are doing the hard work of increasing college completion rates for students on their campuses. The report contains links to resources and stories written by institutions themselves and will serve as an additional resource for schools as they seek to promote student degree completion.

Loan Counseling Sites:

  • AR — Arkansas State University – Newport, 2-year Public
  • AZ — Arizona State University, 4-year Public
  • CA — Cañada College, 2-year Public
  • CA — College of San Mateo, 2-year Public
  • CA — Copper Mountain College, 2-year Public
  • CA — Los Angeles Pierce College, 2-year Public
  • CA — Riverside City College, 2-year Public
  • CA — San Diego City College, 2-year Public
  • CA — San Diego Mesa College, 2-year Public
  • CA — San Diego Miramar College, 2-year Public
  • CA — Skyline College, 2-year Public
  • CA — Southwestern College, 2-year Public
  • CO — Metropolitan State University of Denver, 4-year Public
  • DE — University of Delaware, 4-year Public
  • FL — College of Central Florida, 4-year Public
  • FL — Tallahassee Community College, 2-year Public
  • IN — Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, 4-year Public
  • KY — Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Elizabethtown Community & Technical College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Gateway Community & Technical College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Hopkinsville Community College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Jefferson Community and Technical College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Madisonville Community College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Somerset Community College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, 2-year Public
  • KY — Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, 2-year Public
  • MA — Northern Essex Community College, 2-year Public
  • ME — Central Maine Community College, 2-year Public
  • MI — Glen Oaks Community College, 2-year Public
  • MI — Lansing Community College, 2-year Public
  • MI — Washtenaw Community College, 2-year Public
  • MO — Missouri Southern State University, 4-year Public
  • MT — Flathead Valley Community College, 2-year Public
  • NC — Guilford Technical Community College, 2-year Public
  • NJ — Bergen County Community College, 2-year Public
  • NV — College of Southern Nevada, 4-year Public
  • NV — Nevada State College, 4-year Public
  • NV — Truckee Meadows Community College, 2-year Public
  • NY — Monroe College, Proprietary
  • NY — Monroe Community College, 2-year Public
  • NY — New York University, 4-year Private
  • NY — SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, 4-year Public
  • OH — Central State University, 4-year Public
  • OH — Lorain County Community College, 2-year Public
  • OK — University of Central Oklahoma, 4-year Public
  • PA — Reading Area Community College, 2-year Public
  • PA — University of Pittsburgh, 4-year Public
  • TX — Texas A&M International University, 4-year Public
  • TX — Texas A&M University, 4-year Public
  • UT — Salt Lake Community College, 2-year Public
  • WI — Nicolet College, 2-year Public
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The Department is launching this experiment under the experimental sites authority of section 487A(b) of the Higher Education Act, which allows the Department to test the effectiveness of statutory and regulatory flexibility for postsecondary institutions that participate in the federal financial aid. Parties interested in supporting the rigorous evaluation of this experiment should contact the Department of Education’s Office of Strategic Partnerships at Russella.Davis@ed.gov.

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