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Vicki Jacobson, Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling, Resources for Managing Student Loans

NOVEMBER 18, 2013

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view the conference agenda and presentation slides »

   Julie Stackhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:20)

   Rohit Chopra, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (30:08)
   Keynote Q&A (8:06)
   Interview with Rohit Chopra (6:40)

Resources for Managing Student Loans
   Introductions (2:12)
   Paul Combe, American Student Assistance (7:02)
   Interview with Paul Combe (12:58)
now playing  Vicki Jacobson, Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling (5:46)
   Marilyn Landrum, Missouri Department of Higher Education (3:58)

Resources for Economics and Personal Finance
   Mary C. Suiter, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (3:10)

Research Panel:
What We Know About Student Loans in the Eighth District and Nationwide
   MODERATOR: William R. Emmons, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:14)
   Bryan J. Noeth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (13:53)
   Kelly D. Edmiston, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (9:17)
   Caroline Ratcliffe, Urban Institute (14:22)
   Research Panel Discussion (35:46)

The Future of Student Loans and Financing Higher Education
   MODERATOR: Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (7:32)
   Sandy Baum, Urban Institute and George Washington University (11:06)
   Interview with Sandy Baum (7:23)
   William Elliott III, University of Kansas (13:12)
   Jen Mishory, Young Invincibles (8:37)
   Interview with Jen Mishory (8:01)
   Gary A. Ransdell, Western Kentucky University (11:35)
   Roundtable Discussion (40:21)


Below is a full transcript of this video presentation. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Vicki Jacobson: At the Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling at the University of Missouri St. Louis, we are currently piloting a resource that we hope we can expand and offer to more borrowers in the future. The program targets financially distressed borrowers who are well into repayment and probably borrowers who have not completed school or have attended some sort of proprietary school and really distressed financially.

What we're doing in this current pilot program that we started in March is we've worked with non-profit financial counseling centers in Boston, Duluth and Philadelphia, and each of those financial counseling organizations has partnered with a legal services organization to provide counseling to these financially distressed borrowers who are probably completely unaware that there are repayment options out there available to them.

What we do in a counseling session is the counselor walks through the available repayment options, doing sort of a checklist depending on the borrower's financial situation or where they are with their student loans. This is determined by looking at their national student loan data system loan summary. So if the borrower is in default, we look at options for the borrower in default. If the borrower is not in default, what other options are available to them?

We look at their budget and help them develop a budget that includes both their federal and private student loans. So essentially what we're trying to do is help the borrower get back on his feet, developing that budget, looking up what the repayment options are, explore what they can repay and what they can work with.

Basically, the counselor kind of acts as an advocate for the borrower to help them go through the maze of getting the information that they need to enroll and understand what their eligibility requirements are. When we started out this pilot, as I said, I think I mentioned that we started it in March. To prepare for the pilot, we trained both the counselors and the attorneys at the legal services organization, training that was developed by the National Consumer Law Center. We also trained counselors in communication skills so that we could combine the two in a program where the borrower would hopefully have the greatest success.

With the entire model, we're working from a behavior change counseling model. We're hoping to help borrowers change their behavior, repay their student loans and improve their financial management skills. As part of this, we also work on various aspects of behavior change within developing the action plan. We develop tasks for both the federal loans and the private loans if they have private loans--and most of them do--and then financial management skills. And in this process, what we're also working on is the confidence level to accomplish these tasks. And if they say that their confidence level is between one and ten is not very great, we work with them on identifying what the barriers are to accomplishing that and what we could do or what some strategies are to work on to remove those barriers and what kind of resources that are available to them throughout the community.

In looking at this model, if the borrower is in need of legal services or legal consultation, the borrower is referred. Not all borrowers will need this, but those that do should have access to legal consultation. The action plan is the basis for looking at their next session. So what we're trying to do here is develop a rapport between the counselor and the borrower so that a session is set up before the borrower leaves the first session and their action plan is monitored, looking at those tasks and how well they accomplish them. And then in the second session, and hopefully third and fourth sessions, we'll look at those tasks and look at new tasks that will take them in the steps that they need to go through to get their student loan repayment such that they are successful ultimately repaying that.

We are small at this point. We hope to get larger and provide a resource for borrowers as an unbiased community service that's not tied to any lender or grantor so that borrowers have a place to turn to. Right now there really isn't any place for them to turn to. This is the first program that the Center has been able to develop that we have development and implemented, and we are going to evaluate with the Public Policy Research Center so that we can bring this program to more borrowers. And the whole process is to help people realize and repay their student loans and explore those options that they maybe did not know were available to them so that they can repay the loans. Thank you.