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$25,000 grant will help prevent student loan defaults at MSSU - KOAM TV 7

$25,000 grant will help prevent student loan defaults at MSSU

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A $25,000 grant from the Department of Higher Education will help to prevent student loan defaults at Missouri Southern State University.

Freshman Shamuniya Moore is taking out her first student loan, in the amount of $8,000.

"Oh, I was very nervous," Moore said.  "I don't want to pay back student loans for the rest of my life."

She says a default prevention counselor has already been discussing repayment options with her.

"We have to pay them and stay on our loans or else they come back to haunt us for the rest of our lives," Moore said.  "They keep adding up, so they teach us that it's very important to get right to it six months after graduating."

Financial aid staff members say about 50 percent of students on campus utilize student loans and the grant money will go towards lessening the number who default.

"The grant isn't paying anyone's loans back or anything like that," said Becca Diskin, Director of Financial Aid.  "It's not actually used to assist a student directly.  What we're doing is providing the services that we otherwise wouldn't be able to."

One of those services includes outreach to former students.

"It provides us with a software tool that allows us to go out to certain delinquent borrowers to target them, with emails, phone calls and letters to help them understand that we are a resource to help them," Diskin said.

Diskin says helping students to avoid default  is important to the university because that rate impacts federal student aid eligibility. 

She says having an available resource on campus is crucial to students avoiding default.

"They're not afraid to talk to us because we're not trying to collect on the debt," Diskin said.  "We're just that intermediary trying to help them out."

"I'm very grateful and excited to have them," Moore said.  "They're like family. They help you make sure everything goes through."

Franklin Technology Center has also received a $25,000 grant from the Department of Higher Education to assist with default prevention services in its adult education programs.
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