With the cost of tuition, room, and board skyrocketing, many potential and current students are left with crippling debt once they finish their time in college. To help improve access to education for all, more and more schools are putting their financial aid programs under a microscope, looking for a better way to provide much-needed assistance.

Finding ways to make these financial aid programs even more student-centric can be difficult – how can we provide an additional layer of support to those most in need?

When it comes to helping college students make smart borrowing decisions, the answer lies in creating a more student-centric financial aid program.

Through a slightly-shifted approach, you can ensure that the students at your university have access to valuable resources while also giving them greater control and autonomy over the process of financing their own education.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the key components for making a financial aid program even more student-centric.

Strategy One: Financial Literacy Programs

Did you know that only 1/3 of college students who take on student loans fully understand the terms and conditions?1 According to College Ave Student Loans, very few will understand the financial responsibility they are undertaking. 

At the end of the day, you want to equip students with the knowledge and tools necessary to make smart financial decisions. That's why it is so important to provide educational support resources for students receiving financial aid. 

One way to do that is by introducing a financial literacy program. This isn't limited to just understanding the complexities of loan terms – but could even include information regarding the basics of personal budgeting, credit card usage, and debt repayment strategies.

Establishing educational resources that are available school-wide would be beneficial for all students as they tackle the complexities of paying for their education. This should include in-person or even digital classes aimed at helping students build their financial literacy, as well as providing easily-accessible resources for further money-management support.

Keep Reading: College Financial Aid Letters are Confusing – 5 Easy Ways to Make Yours More Helpful

Strategy Two: Leverage Technology 

In the digital age, it is increasingly important to utilize technology and its associated services to create a much more efficient experience when it comes to financial aid. 

Things like mobile phone applications, web portals, and interactive chatbots – these technological components will not only simplify the process of completing forms for students and faculty but can also make accessing educational resources easier. 

Beyond creating a "better" experience for users during the financial aid process, campuses should also dedicate resources toward integrating predictive analytics into their systems as well.

This data will enable administrators to better assess students’ college readiness in advance, so they can easily adjust funding packages accordingly – helping ensure that only those who actually need additional support are able to receive the necessary help quickly and efficiently. 

Scholarship Software Integration

Aside from grants, scholarships are the next best payment option for students looking to complete their college education with the lowest amount of debt possible.

After the university-based scholarships have been distributed, however, many students resort to loans before considering other options. These college students miss out on external scholarship opportunities simply because they don't know these awards exist.

There's no shortage of software and services that can help connect students to potential scholarship opportunities – it just needs to be accessible to those who need it.

Integration with these services (college applications, scholarship databases, FAFSA, and private lenders) can make it easier for students to find out more about the various awards available outside of your university’s normal funding options.

Strategy Three: Early support

If your university wants to promote student success (and even physical wellness), then you will need to start working with students early. So when do college students start taking out student loans?

The average college student doesn't start considering college loans when they're working full-time after college. And no, it's not their Senior, Junior, Sophomore, or even Freshman year.

Most college students begin applying for student loans either during or directly after high school.

2023’s high school graduates may take on over $35,000 in student loans before they receive their Bachelor’s degree.2 Without proper guidance, they may be paying off these loans decades after they complete their degree. 

That's why your university's financial aid department should also have programs and initiatives geared towards high schoolers, helping to set them up for brighter financial futures in college and beyond.

Connecting with local high schools through college fairs is a good start, but an even better approach would be to implement programs and resources geared toward high schoolers in your university's financial aid department.

By offering financial aid advising to students while they're still in high school, you'll ensure that potential college students are familiar with the process, understand all of their options, and have a better grasp on what's available to them before they even enroll.

Setting up an early counseling system saves both your university and the student time in the long run while also setting them up for success from day one.

Getting Started

Creating a more student-centric financial aid program involves taking a slightly different approach to the way your university handles these matters.  

The goal is to create an environment in which students can receive all the knowledge and resources they need to make informed decisions about their future while also eliminating any added stress or confusion associated with financing their continued education. 

Fortunately, finding effective ways to make your financial aid programs more student-centric isn't that difficult. By focusing on proper expertise and guidance, utilizing new technology, and integrating early support initiatives where applicable, you can easily meet the needs of every potential (or current) student. 

With the help of iGrad's Financial Literacy Platform, it will be easier than ever for you to structure a program in which students have total control over their finances going forward – putting them in a much better position as they take the next steps toward their dream career. 

iGrad's Financial Literacy Platform is a highly customizable, easy-to-use tool for both students and financial aid advisors alike. The platform's award-winning financial education curriculum guides users step-by-step through budgeting, credit score, debt repayment plans, and more. 

It also offers video-based student loan entrance and exit counseling to help college students make informed, smart borrowing decisions.

Contact iGrad today for a demo, and get started building a more student-centric financial aid program at your university.



1 - https://www.collegeavestudentloans.com/press/college-ave-student-loans-survey-finds-only-half-of-college-students-that-borrow-student-loans-feel-confident-they-can-repay/

2 - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/2023-data-high-school-grad