White House challenges student debt
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HOUSTON [July 13, 2016]- Each year, approximately 18,000 Houston Community College (HCC) students get loans through the federal government; however, 20-percent of those borrowers are not paying that money back. It’s one of the reasons HCC has joined the White House in a nationwide initiative to help HCC students, faculty, and staff manage their existing student loan debts.
“We have a student population where many aren’t ready to take on this kind of debt, so when they get out of school they don’t know how to handle it,” said JoEllen Soucier, HCC Executive Director of Financial Aid. “Many think their best option is to ignore it, but ignoring your student loan debt puts you into default.”
President Barack Obama recently announced new actions to help ensure that more than 40 million Americans with student debt understand their repayment options and have access to ways to pay their debts successfully. To ensure borrowers can manage and stay current on their monthly student loan payments, the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) plan is available to all direct student loan borrowers. With PAYE, borrowers can cap their monthly payments at no more than 10 percent of their income.
As our pledge to spread the word about PAYE and other alternatives available, the HCC Financial Aid Office is holding a series of interactive, results-oriented workshops and one-on-one sessions with HCC financial coaches to help current students and borrowers, who have completed or left college, understand their repayment choices.
“Many students who get loans don’t think far enough in the future and they don’t have a financial action plan in place,” said Shanell Foster, HCC financial coach. “Many of them don’t take the necessary steps to prepare by saving money, creating a budget, and watching their spending habits. HCC is here to help them get on track.”
HCC is also working to support student loan repayment on campus and in the local community through outreach to employees, parents, and community members.
“It’s about communication, education, and outreach,” added Soucier. “There is no reason to go into default.”
Houston Community College (HCC) is composed of 13 Centers of Excellence and numerous satellite centers that serve the diverse communities in the Greater Houston area by preparing individuals to live and work in an increasingly international and technological society. HCC is one of the country’s largest singly-accredited, open-admission, community colleges offering associate degrees, certificates, workforce training, and lifelong learning opportunities.