Missouri colleges use grant to educate students on loans and debt

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded 18 Missouri colleges and universities with their Default Prevention Grant for the 2017-2018 academic year.  The grant is given to schools to be used to promote financial literacy and help prevent students from defaulting on their student loans.
Higher education institutions use the funding for programs that focus on strengthening students' money management skills.
Stephens College Financial Aid Director Kim Stonecipher-Fisher said the funding allows them to better interact with students.
"One of the things that it has allowed us to do is use peer counselors on campus to educate our current students about the importance of paying off their student loans in the future," she said. "It has also allowed us to do a tremendous amount of outreach, not only to our students on campus, but also to our recent graduates who have student loans.”
Stonecipher-Fisher said loans have an impact a lot of financial decisions.
"Something that we talk about with our current students is having a good career and being able to do the things you want to do," she said. "Buy cars, be able to purchase homes, have a great credit rating, all of those things can be tied into how they look at their student loans.”
Columbia College Financial Aid Senior Director Nathan Miller said the grant allows them to keep the students informed on their financial situation.
"We really want the students to know how they are paying for college; what’s the difference between a grant and a scholarship, an unsubsidized loan versus a subsidized loan," he said. "We’re trying to connect with all of our student population on what it means to pay for school and how they are going to pay for school, and the impact of the financial decisions they're making."
Missouri's student loan default rate has declined in recent years. The state's current default rate is 11.5 percent, compared to 13.1 percent in 2014.
Stonecipher-Fisher said Stephens College has noticed the trend.
"We’re in our fifth or sixth year receiving the default prevention grant, in the last five years we have had a decrease by 4.6% in default rate by our students,” she said.
Stonecipher-Fisher said Stephens College is thankful for the grant.
"The legislators who fund this grant need to know that it is money well spent because there is nothing more important than our current students knowing the value of their loans and being able to pay back their loans on a timely basis,” she said.
This is the seventeenth year grants have been provided to higher education institutions.
The following institutions were selected to receive a default prevention grant for the 2017-2018 academic year:
·         Bryan University
·         Columbia College
·         Cottey College
·         Harris-Stowe State University
·         Jefferson College
·         Lincoln University
·         Mineral Area College
·         Missouri Southern State University
·         Missouri University of Science and Technology
·         Moberly Area Community College
·         North Central Missouri College
·         St. Louis College of Health Careers
·         State Fair Community College
·         State Technical College of Missouri
·         Stephens College
·         University of Missouri-Columbia
·         University of Missouri-St. Louis
·         Webster University