COLORADO SPRINGS — A local university's financial aid office is working to prevent large student loan debt with teaching students about financial literacy.
During the first few weeks of school at UCCS, financial aid advisors go to classes with freshman and first-year students. They do presentations on financial literacy and how to be a responsible loan borrower.
Nearly 10,000 students at UCCS are receiving federal aid in student loans, and about 5,000 students are receiving aid through private loans. UCCS students owe, on average, less than $25,000 in student loans, which is 12,000 than the state average.
“The good news is our students do borrow wisely,” said Jevita Rogers. “Financial literacy is extremely important to us here… So our students graduate with a much lower loan indebtedness than Colorado and nationally.”
Rogers is the senior executive director of financial student aid, employment and scholarships at the University, and she credits some of the steps and measures they've taken to educate students about financial literacy.
“I think one of the things that UCCS has done really well is trying to get constant reminders to students to be an informed consumer and borrowing conservatively. The tagline is to follow your ABC’s, always borrow conservatively,” said Rogers. “Federal student loans also have a lot of good benefits for students, there are much lower interest rates and there are also opportunities for those loans to be forgiven.”
Part of the lesson is teaching students about loan debt, other ways to pay tuition, and saving money. It's mandatory to learn for freshman and first-year students.
“It is extremely important for us to get students to understand because they are debt conscious,” said Rogers.
Sometimes, student aid advisors are also invited to speak to classes with juniors and seniors, before graduation and making big financial decisions. Plus, all new students get a guide on financial literacy too.
UCCS also offers non-mandatory classes on financial literacy. Plus there's also a federal mandate in place, where first time loan borrowers at all schools, are also required to do loan entrance counseling.
Nate Lucci is a senior at the university and he remembers his freshman year, which was the first year he took out a student loan, when an advisor came to his class.
“I feel like students really need to know that especially at such a young young age. They don't really know too much about loans and all that kind of stuff. So they'll find themselves into heavy debt. So the fact that UCCS would would walk around and kind of teach kids about that was really awesome,” said Lucci.
For freshman students like Brianna Berry those resources have helped her borrow responsibly for her first year of college
“I think that having those resources and being able to understand what exactly you're getting into is really, really important in order to start off college,” said Berry.
Colorado College also offers resources and student loan debut calculators on their website. Some of their financial literacy conversations target students who are the first in their family to attend college.
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