Call it student loan fatigue — each week more dismal news about college graduates struggling with crushing debt. The concern is so pervasive that the tuition and financial aid team in the Penn State Abington Office of Admissions decided it's time to make students active and educated financial consumers, for life.
Carole Eiben, associate director of enrollment management and retention who focuses on financial aid, presents the Your Money Counts series to Abington students. The first session dissects student loans: types of funding, lenders, options, pitfalls, fees, terms and the inevitable repayment plan.
Eiben's Admissions Office colleague Kate Murt, a recent Penn State graduate, spoke to a group of students this week about her own experience.
"My student loan payment is automatically deducted each month so I never have that money to spend."
-- Kate Murt, enrollment services specialist in admissions at Penn State Abington
Murt explained that although the federal government funds student loans, private firms or servicers collect repayments. She warned that the names of some servicers, such as Nelnet and Naviance, aren't indicative of their purpose so it's easy to overlook emails or letters regarding payments, which can lead to trouble.
Murt said she ignored her servicer's initial contact because "it looked like junk mail or a credit card application." Thankfully for her credit rating, she worked it out.
She also encouraged students to sign up for automatic debit plans to make payments less painful and more efficient.
"My student loan payment is automatically deducted each month so I never have that money to spend," Murt said.
Eiben presents additional Your Money Counts sessions devoted to spending and saving strategies, credit and credit cards, tax preparation information, and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). She schedules the workshops during Common Break, a daily time reserved for activities, socializing, and studying at Abington.