Connors State College has received a $50,000 grant to enhance the financial literacy of its students with the aim of increasing graduation and student loan repayment rates.
USA Funds, a nonprofit organization that helps American families benefit from postsecondary education, is providing the funds to the college under its endowment for student success. The endowment supports funding and in-kind services to colleges and universities to help them promote the success of their students. Jennifer Watkins, CSC Financial Aid Director and staff members have been working with USA Funds Consultant Bonnie Weaver to develop a student loan default prevention plan and carry on outreach to its student loan borrowers to counsel them as they pay back their loans.
“The USA Funds grant gives Connors the opportunity to actively prepare more students to enroll and succeed in college-level courses, while also educating them on financial responsibility,” said Dr. Tim Faltyn, CSC President. “We’re excited about the opportunity to better educate our students on their financial responsibilities and student loan debt management.”
CSC will use the grant funds to provide financial literacy information to students and former students when they initially request a student loan, as they prepare to graduate, or if they encounter problems paying back their student loans. The college will use members of its President’s Leadership Class to serve as trained peer mentors, delivering personal finance information to their classmates.
In addition, the grant will fund training of CSC Financial Aid staff to better assist students with the repayment of their loans, as well as an analysis of the characteristics of former students who fail to repay their loans. The analysis will help the staff tailor programs to prevent student loan defaults.
“Helping our students more effectively manage their time and money prepares them for the repayment of the loans that helped pay for their education and increases their prospects for completing their academic programs,” said Watkins. “Financial problems are among the leading reasons why students drop out and fail to earn their degrees.”
The activities were recommended in a default prevention plan that Watkins and the financial aid staff completed In February. The college also conducts a program of regular contact with former students to assist those having trouble paying off their student loans. CSC also plans to implement an online personal finance curriculum, dealing with budgeting, saving and spending, goal setting and achievement, and managing credit.
For more information on USA Funds, visit www.usafunds.org.