OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is pleased to participate in October’s Student Loan Awareness Month (SLAM), along with coalition partners including the Washington Attorney General’s Office, King County Bar Association, Consumer Education and Training (CENTS), Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE), Northwest Consumer Law Center, Northwest Justice Project, American Financial Solutions, Washington Student Achievement Council, and the Washington Student Association.
The coalition works to provide high school juniors and seniors with the information, tools, and skills needed to determine post-high school next steps that won’t leave students drowning in debt for a degree or certification.
According to Forbes magazine, US student loan debt is now $1.52 Trillion – including a $29 Billion increase in a single quarter. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/06/13/student-loan-debt-statistics-2018/#5dce3e687310) This debt remains with students – and often with their cosigning parents – even in the face of bankruptcy.
Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Overstreet has seen many Washington residents whose student loans played a significant role in their appearance in her court.
“Today’s high school students need to have a better understanding of what their post-high school goals are going to cost them - and have a plan for how to pay for it in a manner that won’t leave them overly burdened by debt,” Overstreet noted. “Whether a student is planning to go to a community college, university, or into a trade or apprenticeship, there is a cost for that. Students need to understand how much debt they can afford, what strategies they can employ to reduce what they have to borrow, and how to evaluate whether they are getting their money's worth from the educational institution they select. When they don't have a plan after graduation, the risk of taking on too much debt is definitely greater.”
SLAM classroom presentations include one- to three-hour exercises that high school teachers can use to prepare students for what it means to take on loans for their post-high school plans. In the exercises, students advance through a worksheet that helps them assemble critical information so they can make informed and responsible choices about how to finance their post-high school plans. Students walk away from the activity with a clear action plan. The activity also satisfies a number of the new K-12 financial education state standards.
The classroom activity helps students develop a plan that:
- Meets a student’s post-high school goals
- Is within a student’s reach with minimal loans
- Provides an accredited degree recognized throughout Washington (and preferably nationally)
- Identifies college/university retention, graduation, and default rates
- Teaches students how to determine starting wages in various career options
- Helps students calculate monthly repayment costs and length of repayment for loans
- Walks students through setting up a monthly budget based on starting wages that includes student loan payments
“I hope students will take advantage of SLAM to learn more about student loans,” DFI Director Gloria Papiez said. “Knowledge is power, and the decisions students make today may impact them for years to come. It is important to make these decisions with full knowledge of both the benefits and costs of student loans.”
The coalition is celebrating SLAM 2018 with student loan/financial education workshops at the following schools this month:
- Oct. 8: Kittitas Secondary School
- Oct.16: Fife High School
- Oct.18: Decatur High School (Federal Way)
- Oct.19: Decatur High School (Federal Way)
- Oct. 23: Mountain View High School (Vancouver)
- Oct. 24: Mountain View High School (Vancouver)
- Oct. 25: Mountain View High School (Vancouver)
- Nov. 5: Bainbridge High School
A clearinghouse of student loan information is available at https://dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/information/student-loans.
Learn more about the SLAM classroom activity and resources at https://dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/educators/student-loan-resources.
For details on scheduling a student loan information workshop at your school, contact Tony Leahy of CENTS at 206-267-7017 or Tony@centsprogram.org.