While a majority of graduate and professional institutions offer some form of financial education for their students, there remains a strong need for more comprehensive and effective programs, according to a survey from Access Group.
The survey, sent out in June 2014, was designed to better determine how schools are delivering financial education to graduate and professional students, who often borrow significant amounts to pay for their education. College Board data shows that 73 percent of 2011-12 graduate and professional degree recipients graduated with debt accumulated from undergraduate and graduate schooling. Seventy-one percent of that was debt accumulated while obtaining their graduate or professional degrees.
The survey, sent to financial aid administrators with the assistance of NASFAA’s Graduate and Professional Issues Committee (GPIC), received 181 responses from 36 states and the District of Columbia. One hundred and twenty-four of the 181 respondents were from private, non-profit institutions; 50 from public institutions; and seven from for-profit institutions. The largest responses were received from law schools (31 percent) and medical schools (22 percent).
An overwhelming 91 percent of respondents said their institution offered financial education, including 107 respondents who said their institution’s financial aid administrators were the campus personnel most often providing in-person presentations and webinars on this issue.
In fact, 67 percent of respondents said the financial aid office provides the most financial education on their campus. However, 83 respondents said they do not have staff specifically designated to deliver financial education and 82 respondents said they have some staff with a portion of their duties dedicated to the task.
Among respondents whose schools offer financial education, some form of in-person counseling was the most common delivery method, with 138 saying they use in-person group presentations and 113 using one-on-one counseling. One hundred and eleven respondents said they deliver content through their institution’s website and 47 said they are using some form of social media, with 40 using Facebook and 24 using Twitter.
When asked about how staff is trained to provide financial information during in person-sessions they hold with students, 77 respondents said staff had been self-taught and 65 reported staff had received training at conferences. Sixty-two respondents cited staff-to-staff training, 22 said an outside trainer had been used to ready the staff, and 13 said the staff at their school had utilized NASFAA University. Access Group notes that respondents were allowed to select more than one method of training.
The most commonly offered financial education topics include loan repayment (85 percent of respondents), enhanced exit interviews (71 percent), budgeting (71 percent), credit (54 percent), and enhanced entrance counseling (53 percent). Fifty-one percent of respondents said they require their students to participate in programs in excess of loan entrance and exit interviews, which are mandated by the federal government, compared to 58 percent who do not have such requirements. Sixty-six of those who require attendance or participation said they do so prior to the release of federal student aid.
Surveyed aid administrators also said that several topics should be provided by a third-party servicer rather than the institution, the most popular of which were budgeting (62 percent), student loan repayment (60 percent), investment and financial planning (56 percent), credit (56 percent), consumer debt (53 percent), taxes (69 percent), and loan borrowing (67 percent).
Aid administrators who reported that their institutions do not provide financial education cited “limited staffing resources” and “time constraints” as the main reasons, along with “past attempts have been ineffective” and “knowledge/comfort level with material.” No respondents chose the answer “do not feel it is the responsibility of my office.”
The survey findings are “a first step” in improving financial education for graduate and professional students and Access Group “will work to provide increased support to colleges and universities serving the graduate and professional community in 2015,” according to the report.
What do you think of the survey results? What are you currently doing or planning to do on your campus to improve financial education? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Publication Date: 1/26/2015