One trillion dollars. That’s the total amount of federal and student loan debt surpassed this year in the United States.
The words “student debt” and “crisis” are effectively married by now. As the problem takes over more of the higher ed conversation, some lawmakers and higher ed institutions are finally taking action.
For example, applying for financial aid has long been a grueling task for students entering college. If legislation aimed at simplifying the process passes, as detailed in a recent Buzz Bin by my colleague Jennifer Lucado, students will have more time – and information available – to explore financial aid options.
These proposed higher ed bills dig up a root of the issue for students – lack of support and poor financial literacy often lead to unsuccessful planning. As stated in the infographic below, “delinquent accounts constitute $85 billion in owed money.”
So, like Jennifer asks, “How are [higher ed institutions] approaching financial aid challenges and other upcoming changes?” When it comes to helping students make smarter decisions, my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), is taking steps in the right direction.
An article from VCU appropriately titled Student Debt Crisis says, “…the university isn’t content with handing the issue of rising debt over to its students. Instead, starting in 2015, the university is attempting to reverse those trends through numerous initiatives aimed at increasing the financial literacy of its students…”
Most of these initiatives center around equipping students with resources that help them make better financial decisions. Some, like Financial Aid TV, revolve around content. Others emphasize the benefits of taking a full course load to graduate on time. All are getting positive reactions.
Well played, VCU. In an age where schools can differentiate themselves by demonstrating success in graduating their students in four years, it’s good to know VCU is committed to supporting students’ financial futures. As this issue rises further to the top, I’ll be interested to see how other higher ed institutions follow suit.