Forest Works to Prevent Student Loan Defaults

"If we don't do this, they won't pay attention to the debt.  It can get really high without them realizing it," said Forest's Director of Financial Aid Carolyn Burros. 

Since 2000, Burros' department has been awarded a 25,000 dollar default prevention grant, designed to help educate students about taking on student loan debt and repayment options after graduation.

At Forest the fund is used in three areas including retention, default aversion, and default prevention.

Programs like tutoring and the writing center fall under retention, while things like debt counseling and seminars are presented to lower the level of loan defaults.

Another way Forest does this is through its annual Default Prevention Fashion Show.

"We take 15 students, faculty and staff and give them 25 dollars to go buy business casual attire that they would wear in a counseling session.  They then model the outfits on the runway," said Burros.

At the event there is a professional DJ and an emcee who describes the outfits being worn.  Prizes are also awarded for those who got the most for their money and even the best look for a professional setting.

"The purpose and the theme is living on a student budget.  We've had students who have gone to the Salvation Army Thrift store, we have one this year possibly even making their own outfit."

Forest's annual fashion show will be held next Friday, April 20, 2012 at noon in the all purpose room of the Springfield academic building.

Since taking on the grant and doing programs and activities like the fashion show, Forest has seen a dramatic drop in student loan defaults.

"Keeping it in the light and keeping it on their minds is important because it can be overwhelming once they graduate and don't know how to manage repayment," said Burros.

Burros says with the decline in the economy many graduates across the country are not getting the jobs they need to repay their loans, but she says Forest students are in a good position because the need for psychological services is increasing with the bad economy.

Forest's financial aid office will continue to provide programs and services to students to prepare them for debt management and student loan repayment, and remains appreciative of the opportunities the Default Prevention Grant provides to the school each year.