:: OCAP News Headlines ::
March/April Edition of Your Bottom Line Now Available
Oklahoma Money Matters presents the March/April edition of Your Bottom Line, a bi-monthly newsletter produced with personal finance organizations, educators and consumers in mind.
OCAP’s Partnership with Student Connections is an Investment in Student Success
The Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) recognizes the impact default prevention has on the mutual success of institutions and borrowers. Helping schools excel in this area is what led Mary Heid, OCAP’s executive director, to work with Student Connections, a nonprofit affiliate of USA Funds focused on enhancing student success in college and career. Under Heid’s leadership, OCAP forged an arrangement with Student Connections to provide default rate management support to 26 Oklahoma campuses with CDRs (cohort default rates) above 10 percent. The agreement provides the schools with the ability to offer comprehensive grace period and default prevention counseling to their borrowers.
Since OCAP began working with Student Connections, it has seen marked improvements in beneficiary school CDRs. “Our schools all seem extremely happy with the service we’ve been able to offer them through Student Connections,” said Heid. “Our state CDR rate has been declining at a greater pace than the national rate, which makes us feel really good that our service is working.”
Student Connections grace counseling informs borrowers of all options, which may include a return to school. In all cases, the objective is to determine the course of action best for the borrower’s individual circumstances. Since the OCAP partnership with Student Connections began, students who underwent grace counseling were more than 40 percent less likely to enter delinquency on their student loans.
Whether it’s measured in reduced default and delinquency rates or in the hundreds of millions of cured federal loan dollars, it’s clear the OCAP-Student Connections partnership has helped preserve the value proposition of higher education in Oklahoma. As Heid says, “I think this investment in our students and institutions is rather unique, and we are very pleased that we’ve been able to do that with an industry partner that shares our vision of student success.”
January/February Edition of Your Bottom Line Now Available
Oklahoma Money Matters presents the January/February edition of Your Bottom Line, a bi-monthly newsletter produced with personal finance organizations, educators and consumers in mind.
Question: What’s new and improved about the FAFSA for the 2016-17 school year?
Answer: College students and high school seniors will be able to submit the FAFSA beginning Oct. 1, 2016, instead of waiting until Jan. 1, 2017.
Take action now to be ready!
- Plan to start FAFSA awareness campaigns and schedule events soon after summer break.
- Visit the “Contact Us” page at UCanGo2.org to sign up for our email updates and to order our free Counselor Toolkit, which includes new FAFSA tools. Bookmark StartWithFAFSA.org for relevant updates and free resources.
- Like us on Facebook for information about a wide variety of scholarships and college planning tips for students.
The upcoming changes to the FAFSA offer numerous benefits for students and parents. We’ll provide updates throughout the summer and fall, so stay connected and we’ll keep you informed.
Beware: Avoid Loan Services Scams
The unauthorized use of instutional logos, seals, names and other trademarks is a growing trend. Often, third party companies using such trademarks without authorization target student loan borrowers for payment for services that would otherwise be free. The Department of Education (ED) recently issued two cease and desist letters to third-party "debt-relief" companies that were using ED's official seal without authorization.
As a borrower, it's important to be aware that the following federal student loan services are free, and you should never pay a third-party company to assist you with these services:
- Consolidating federal student loans
- Changing repayment plans
- Resolving defaults
- Filing requests for borrower defense loan cancellation
Some third-party companies also target colleges and universities, claiming to offer special benefits for borrowers through the school. All postsecondary institutions are encouraged to:
- Provide warnings to students, including on institutional websites, about so-called debt relief companies.
- Provide information to students indicating that they do not need to pay for loan benefits for Federal student loans.
- Review institutional websites to ensure that they provide the most up-to-date information about the terms and conditions of federal student loans and the servicing of those loans. In reviewing several institutions websites, ED became aware that some sites contain outdated information about the Direct Loan Servicing Center and had directed students to call a number that is no longer associated with ED.
To learn more, read ED's electronic announcement, Third-Party Debt Relief Companies’ Use of Institutional Names, Logos and Other Trademarks.
FAFSA PIN Change
As of May 10, 2015, those applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will no longer use a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access their applications online. Instead, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) now requires online applicants to obtain an FSA ID consisting of a username and password.
All impacted FSA websites, including FAFSA on the Web, The National Student Loan Data System, Federal Direct Consolidation Loans, Federal Student Aid, and Agreement to Serve, will require users to register for a new FSA ID—a process which should take less than seven minutes to complete. To learn more about this change visit StartWithFAFSA.org.
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