With the cost of college on the rise, more students than ever before are applying for loans to pay for their education. To help make students better borrowers, Cape Fear Community College has recently implemented a new process to make students take a closer look at their overall debt situation before they borrow money for college.
Beginning in the fall semester, all students who apply for Federal student loans through CFCC must first take part in online financial counseling.
“Over the last couple of years, we saw a dramatic increase in loan requests from students who requested the maximum amount available,” said Jo-Ann Craig, CFCC director of financial aid.
Borrowing more than what they need can get students into big trouble down the road, according to CFCC financial aid staff. For many younger students, a student loan is one of the first major financial burdens that can follow them for decades if they are not careful, Craig said.
“What we are trying to do is to help students make a more informed decision about how much they really need to borrow for their college education,” Craig said.
The online counseling already seems to be having an impact. After completing an online financial literacy counseling session, fewer students at Cape Fear Community College are requesting the maximum student loan award.
“I have seen a reduction in the amounts of loans students are accepting after they complete the financial literacy counseling,” said Tracy Ward, loan coordinator of Cape Fear Community College.
“In the past, students would simply ask for the maximum amount. Now, it seems that they are giving it some thought before putting an amount on their request form,” Ward said.
In addition to the online counseling, students must also find out what their total debt is before they can apply for another loan.
CFCC officials hope that while these steps do take additional work before students can register for school, in the long run, it will end up helping students become more responsible and aware of the debt they take on.