December is a time for holidays and school breaks. But there are some key messages you should be sharing to make sure that it’s not also a time for your students to wreck their financial and academic success.
So start your preparations for a much-deserved holiday break by making sure these items are on your December default prevention checklist:
Help students stay on track.
At this time of year, it’s easy for students to get caught up in everything except staying on track to complete their education. Remind them to commit to the wise budgeting and study habits that will keep them on the path toward one of the best gifts of all: a college degree.
Suggest holiday employment.
It’s not too late for your students to take advantage of downtime at school to get a seasonal job to earn some extra money for school — and maybe even help with some of those holiday expenses.
Recommend starting scholarship searches.
Let students know they can get a jump on their 2015-2016 financial aid by starting their scholarship searches during any extra time they have around the holidays.
Ask students if they’re borrowing too much.
Suggest to your students that they take a look back at this school year’s costs so far, as well as their current loan balance — and consider whether they have borrowed more than they’ll need. If they have borrowed more than they need, recommend that they contact the financial aid office to discuss their options.
Spread the word about academic progress.
While they’re reflecting about borrowing, students also should take a look at their academic progress. Does the number of credits they’ve earned keep them on track for timely graduation? Are the classes for which they’re registering help them graduate on time and with as little debt as possible?
Get the FAFSA on students’ radar.
The upcoming New Year will mean it’s time to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for 2015-2016. If they don’t already have one, recommend that your students and their families get a PIN for completing the form online. They also should learn the deadlines for submitting the FAFSA.
Update servicer files.
Have you recently checked to make sure you’re providing up-to-date student contact information in your servicer files? Make it a habit to regularly review the files — and the end of the calendar year marks a good time to take a look.
What ideas do you have for December default prevention activities?