University of Northern Iowa is doing its part to help students shoulder the financial burden of college by offering a “Live Like a Student” non-credit course, the Des Moines Register reported. The free, three-week program helps students plan their finances by looking at expenses and spending habits.
In addition, the class goes over student loans and repayment planning, which can be an eye-opener for students. Those who are opting for private loans are required to have a face-to-face meeting with a counselor to discuss their finances and aid packages. They record every expense they have during the three weeks of the course.
The Results of the Course
So far, the course has been a success. The number of UNI students who graduate while owing money on student loans has dropped during the past five years.
At its record high in the 2011-2012 school year, 69 percent of UNI students owed money back on student loans when they graduated. In the 2016-2017 school year, that figure dropped to 60.4 percent. It is now at the lowest rate in recent years, down even from the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years when the rate was 61 percent, according to Higher Education Today.
The total amount of student loans has decreased as well. UNI students owed $4.6 million in student loans in 2016-2017, which is down a whopping 70 percent from 2007-2008 when it was $15.3 million. Graduates from the Class of 2008 had an average of $24,000 each in student loans.
“Our students will be able to pay off their loans quicker, and the amount of money they have to put into the loan payments is much, much less,” Mark Nook, UNI president, told the Des Moines Register.
Since 2010, the student debt load borrowers owe by the time they graduate has been cut down on average by over 13 percent, or $3,300 for each loan holder.
When looking at national averages, in recent years thanks to this program, UNI student loan borrowers owe approximately 24 percent less than the average owed by other borrowers in the country.
Why This Program Works
Unless students learn about handling their finances responsibly at home, there aren’t many ways they can learn about money management and aid options.
High schools don’t offer much in the way of financial education, which means students are often clueless when they start to deal with real-world finances. It’s even trickier to navigate complicated financial matters like college financing because it can be confusing to adults, too.
This course can also help students get a more comprehensive look at their overall financial picture and needs. It includes information about investing, identity protection, and credit.
By looking at the complete picture and calculating the future payments they’ll have to make, students might be more driven to find ways to forgo private loans or cut back on the amount they take out.
Author: Mike Brown
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