Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology: Keeping Default Rates Down through Clear Communication: USA Funds Borrower Connect Organizes Borrower and Loan Information, Helping Financial Aid Staff Focus on Outreach

Article excerpt

Maintaining frequent contact with student loan borrowers is a challenge at any institution, regardless of size. At the 725-student Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, Okla., the three-year cohort default rate was commonly between 25 and 27 percent.

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"Our rate was so high because we had no easy way to communicate electronically with our borrowers," says Dean Riling, vice president of administration. "Our accounts system did not connect with student email addresses."

Riling had worked with USA Funds as a guarantor while working at a different institution. "At that school, default rates were consistently under 10 percent, and usually under 5 percent," he says. "I knew USA Funds had a system that would benefit Spartan College."

That system is USA Funds Borrower Connect[TM], a web-based software system that automates telephone, letter, and email communication with student borrowers. To provide a complete picture of each borrower, data can be uploaded from multiple servicer and U.S. Department of Education databases into USA Funds Borrower Connect by financial aid staff. Users can view real-time default rates, aggregate loan data from multiple providers for a single borrower, and generate reports on borrower information and outreach history. The tool's easy-to-use dashboard provides a snapshot of the school's borrowers and the status of their loans. Targeted communication strategies can be created to reach borrowers at different stages of repayment.

"USA Funds Borrower Connect makes it so easy to identify delinquent borrowers and immediately contact them to discuss deferring or setting up a repayment plan," Riling says.

Initially, some in the college's administration were wary of bringing borrower contact in-house, Riling says. There was a fear the process would be too overwhelming for overworked staff who had to spend the majority of their time manually gathering information from the Department of Education. …