Provider insight on the challenges in providing financial aid content within courses

In your experience, how common is it for financial aid offices to push in to classrooms with messages to students about financial aid, managing student loan debt, and personal finance—and what may be holding them back from doing this more? 

“Typically, we only hear of financial aid staff coming in to the classroom as part of a first-year experience type of course. The discussion is usually the broad brushstrokes: complete the FAFSA every year, apply for scholarships, here’s where to find us, etc. There’s no room for ongoing discussions of student loan management or personal finance. I think the biggest obstacle is a lack of awareness by faculty: unaware of how much students don’t know, unaware of the complexities of financial aid, unaware of how academic performance is tied to aid. If they knew, they may find some way to incorporate that information into their classes.”

—Carissa Uhlman,  vice president of student success, Inceptia

Link to main story: Colleges teach students first-class finance

 “Due to an increased focus on student debt and affordability, more institutions are implementing financial literacy programs, yet they are still sporadic. Some barriers include the fact that the classroom is considered ‘sacred ground’ restricted to for-credit coursework, and institutions have limited budget for one-on-one financial counseling. Institutions have an opportunity to use personalized outreach to be responsive to students’ financial aid inquiries and provide financial aid counseling opportunities.”

—Anthony Humphreys, senior director of student services, Blackboard

“Time, resources and willingness of faculty to get involved in the financial aspects of college attendance are just a few of the roadblocks aid administrators face. Federal Student Aid (FSA) mandates each student receiving federal student loan funds must complete Entrance Counseling. Gone are the days of face-to-face counseling and here are the days of screens and clicks. To improve financial prowess, many campuses have incorporated financial management in the Freshman 101 course.”

—Amy Moser, customer relationship manager, southeast region, Nelnet Campus Commerce

“Many financial aid administrators have found that First Year Experience (FYE) classes are ideal for delivering this critical information. Getting students on the right path with money management from the start is ideal, and often instructors are eager to incorporate new content and guest lecturers in their classes. It may be challenging to reach all new students at larger universities with many FYE course sections. If visiting each class is prohibitive, providing training or financial literacy materials for course instructors is a step in the right direction.”

—Joanne Dashiell, manager of strategic partnerships, American Student Assistance

“Fortunately, it’s getting more common. Dropping out is driven much more by financial stress than academic performance. Our research surveys show that finances are the top threat to student success, especially for those who don’t complete. That’s why more administrators are looking at proactive approaches to student loan issues. Access to financial literacy resources can not only prevent overborrowing—and thus future delinquency and default – but reduce attrition. That’s good for students and bottom lines, since recruiting costs a lot more than retention.”

—Craig P. Anderson, president, Student Connections

“Unfortunately, it’s very rare for aid offices to push financial literacy content into the classroom experience. Both students and schools would benefit from a resurgence in this type of activity. The limitations of staff resources, expertise in personal financial counseling, and quality curriculum impact the abilities of aid offices to offer students this type of face-to-face service.”

—Amy Glynn, vice president of financial aid and community, CampusLogic

Nancy Mann Jackson, an Alabama-based writer, is a frequent contributor to UB. 


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