American Student Assistance®, a private nonprofit dedicated to eliminating finance as a barrier to education and the dreams education enables, has surpassed its pledge to spread the word about income driven repayment (IDR) to one million student loan borrowers before the end of 2016, as part of the White House Student Debt Challenge.
“We are thrilled to have reached this important milestone well in advance of our target date,” said Betsy Mayotte, ASA® director of consumer outreach. “The ability to base repayment on income is an important option for every federal student loan borrower. All too often borrowers simply don’t know their options or how to access them. We will continue to support this Challenge and any federal initiative to raise awareness and participation in IDR and other federal student loan benefits, in an effort to relieve the individual and societal burden of student debt.”
While the numbers of borrowers using IDR has risen in recent years, government estimates show the plans are still underutilized. According to a Government Accountability Office report from 2015, the Department of the Treasury estimated that 51 percent of borrowers are eligible for IDR but a report by President Obama’s administration from September of this year shows only about 23 percent participating. Older borrowers in particular may not be aware that these options are available to all federal student loan borrowers, including those with consolidated Parent Plus loans.
As of November 2016, the combined reach for ASA’s IDR campaign stands at nearly 1.2 million. Utilizing ASA’s financial literacy platform for education consumers, “Salt®,” the campaign used a variety of channels and tactics to spread the IDR word, including social media, a monthly newsletter for Salt members, and a website landing page. Consumers were directed to Salt educational content and resources on choosing the right repayment plan, Income Contingent Repayment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness and more.
Also as part of its pledge, ASA encouraged its 300 higher education institution partners, who together with ASA underwrite the Salt program so that their students and alumni can access its services for free, to join the Student Debt Challenge. ASA provided IDR training materials and webinars to all Salt partners for use with their own staff, alumni and student populations.
As added incentive, each month from now through March 2017, ASA is randomly selecting one school out of all those who took the Student Debt Challenge pledge. The winning school will be awarded $1,000 to their general scholarship fund to be given to a deserving student of their choice to assist with college expenses. The first winner is Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI. To date, 11 Salt schools have joined the Student Debt Challenge as a result of ASA’s efforts.
“It is so important for our students and alumnae to be aware of the options available to them when it comes to paying back student loans,” said Natalie Jaskie, assistant director of Financial Aid at Alverno College. “Our efforts through the Student Debt Challenge are a worthwhile endeavor, and now one of students will directly benefit from this additional scholarship money because of it.”
About American Student Assistance:
American Student Assistance (asa.org) is a private nonprofit dedicated to eliminating finance as a barrier to education and the dreams education enables. ASA today combines its 60 years of experience, knowledge and best practices into its College Planning Services, Center for Consumer Advocacy and Salt® (saltmoney.org), a multidimensional program that teaches education consumers how to make better decisions about financing higher education and repaying student loans. Today Salt is adopted by more than 300 higher education institutions, nonprofits, and corporations nationwide to reach more than 4 million education consumers.