By Grant Madsen
Though the national average for default on student loans is 9.8 percent, BYU’s Financial Aid Office has a default rate of 1.3 percent thanks, in part, to a “financial first aid kit” that recently won the Sallie Mae Education Institute’s Award for Financial Aid Administrators.
“For an institution our size it’s probably one of the best default rates in the nation,” says Norman Finlinson, director of Financial Aid, adding that he regularly receives calls from other universities curious about BYU’s program.
Nicole N. Nielsen, a sophomore elementary education student from Puyallup, Wash., says the financial first aid kit taught her how to acquire, budget, and save money for her education. “This plan helped me see that other options were available besides taking out a loan,” she says. “No one wants to graduate with a huge loan hanging over their heads.”
BYU’s Financial Aid Office mails the kit to all BYU freshmen borrowers. In addition, anyone applying for a loan must complete a 7-step process to receive funding. “The financial first aid kit gives us a realistic sense of a student’s financial trajectory,” says Finlinson, explaining that unrealistic or unusual plans are flagged and students are asked to reevaluate their loan needs with the help of a financial aid counselor.
The kit, which includes a workbook and an instructional video, is available to all college students and to high school counselors who wish to share it with college-bound students. For more information, call (801) 378-4104.