Saying 'Here’s How' Rather Than 'You Can’t'

"I wanted to call our blog readership's attention to an article that was in a recent NASFAA newsletter because I thought it was particularly helpful at this time of year when financial aid offices (and admissions recruiters) are having conversations with families about aid packages," Kathy Kurz writes on Scannell & Kurz's blog

"The article was titled 5 Steps to Take When Students Appear at Risk of Over-Borrowing and was written [with the help of] several aid officers. ...

In a nutshell, the article suggests ways that professionals can talk to incoming (or current) students realistically about the financial implications of enrollment decisions without making decisions for them. Included in their advice was the following:

Work with families on developing realistic budgets

Help them understand their financing options and likely earnings based on intended major

Say 'let’s look at the possibilities' not 'you can’t afford this'

Be specific about all their options—don’t assume they have thought about outside scholarships, payment plans, etc.

Keep an eye out for students who fall short of earning credits in order to proactively intervene

Talk to students about ways to pay for college and the return on investment. I thought this advice provided a very positive balance between the 'camp' that believes it is not only appropriate but right to be blunt with families—actually discouraging them from enrolling if financing will be a struggle—and the 'camp' that brushes over the facts in order to encourage students to enroll. 

I would add a few items their list, such as:

Explaining that there any many loan repayment options—including income based repayment—to overcome all the negative hype families may have read in the media about borrowing.

Going over factors that would justify a professional judgment adjustment to a package. Although it may feel like every family already appeals, there are some families (especially first generation families) that may not bring up very legitimate changes in their circumstances."

NASFAA's "Financial Aid in the News" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.