NASFAA's Enhanced Loan Counseling Task Force, convened in February 2019, was charged with thinking about loan counseling in an innovative and creative way, with the underlying assumption that Congress will impose additional loan counseling requirements as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
The task force was comprised of a geographically diverse group of 9 NASFAA members. The group conducted its work between February–September 2019, and its recommendations were accepted and approved by the NASFAA Board of Directors in November 2019.
In its report, the Enhanced Loan Counseling Task Force expresses support for a federal effort to develop strategic, targeted, and more frequent counseling, but acknowledges that a single annual counseling tool for every borrower would not be the most effective way to educate borrowers. In order to make loan counseling more meaningful and effective, whether annual or less frequent, the task force offered the following recommendations:
- Recommendation 1: Congress should consider implementing more strategic, targeted counseling through a modular-based system. Modular coverage of loan counseling topics over the course of a student's college career would provide more relevant, timely information, as opposed to covering all topics annually.
- Recommendation 2: Congress should, under a modular-based system, allow for a competency test-out of certain loan counseling topics to avoid unnecessarily burdening borrowers with useless repetition of mastered topics.
- Recommendation 3: Congress should consider mandating threshold-based counseling for students who have borrowed beyond defined thresholds that are tied to education level and degree objective.
- Recommendation 4: Congress should require the Department of Education (ED) to update its online counseling tool so that it is more relevant, interactive, and personalized. If annual counseling is ultimately mandated, schools should have access to a strong, regularly updated, consumer-tested tool from ED that can be easily utilized to meet this requirement.