What We Heard at Our February Listening Session
It takes all of us—schools, lenders, and other agencies—working together as a team to help students and their families pay for higher education. And sharing what we’ve learned about education financing with each other helps us all do better. To that end, we recently hosted the first in a series of quarterly ScholarNet Listening Sessions with the goal of having a candid conversation with schools about private loan processing, specific pain points and challenges, and any general concerns and issues.
Fourteen participants from nearly a dozen schools attended our February 26 session, which was facilitated by Brett Lindquist, Managing Director and Mike Mutziger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Following are just a few highlights from what proved to be a very engaging, hour-long discussion. Going forward, we’ll use these insights to improve our products and services to benefit our school partners and the industry.
Listening Session Topics
The first question we posed to the group was if they feel students and parents are fully aware of the implications of taking out a private loan. Several schools reported seeing a “loan adverse” trend among prospective students, as well as a gap in terms of long-term planning. Participants also noted that some students loan borrowers don’t understand the difference between private and Federal loans, and believe they can consolidate all their loans to get one interest rate and one monthly payment.
Along the same lines, we asked our listening session participants if the lack of private loan knowledge has affected their office. The responses we received reflect the concept of students borrowing not just for tuition, but for the cost of living off campus, groceries and meals. paying for gas, etc. One school noted, “Having knowledge of that need informs the conversation we are having with students.” Ultimately, this trend can complicate how much students feel they need to borrow.
When we asked our school partners for ideas to “cut through the noise” to reach students and parents, we uncovered successful strategies such as incorporating value messaging within existing communications, and going old school, by writing detailed emails to provide a personalized resource the student can keep and share.
As we began to wrap up our session, we asked schools if their students’ expectations of the private loan process has changed. A number of participants discussed how in a world of online banking, students and families are often surprised by longer processing times (for example, to accommodate the required 3 day cancellation window), and situations where lenders mail a paper check.
Keep the Conversation Going
If you are interested in participating in our next listening session, please contact your Great Lakes representative or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also join our MyScholarNet group on LinkedIn for a safe space to hear and share ideas, voice frustrations, and learn from others in the industry.