FAME Partners with American Student Assistance to Tackle College Affordability and Student Debt
Friday, September 07, 2012
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has partnered with American Student Assistance (ASA) to revolutionize how Maine college-goers finance and repay their higher education costs. Through the innovative educational membership program SALTSM, functionally powered by ASA and administered in Maine by FAME, Maine college students and alumni will receive financial literacy and proactive education debt management services free-of-charge.
SALT is the industry-leading financial empowerment program created by ASA to improve the financial capabilities of college students and alumni, as well as to assist student loan borrowers once they enter repayment. In addition to one-on-one counseling and guidance, students and alumni will have access to online tools as part of ASA’s membership program, including: a highly interactive, experience-based financial education curriculum; a personalized dashboard by which students may track their loans; interactive calculators; access to job and scholarship searches; and other benefits and rewards to help reduce the cost of attending college.
FAME will launch a pilot version of the program this fall when students return to class. The pilot program will include up to nine participating Maine colleges and universities and will be funded by the Maine College Access Challenge Grant. Students should contact their college directly for more information about SALT.
As a public purpose, nonprofit organization, ASA is committed to offering SALT services free of charge to student and alumni members by sharing the costs of service delivery with like-minded stakeholders who want to develop student financial capabilities. Since SALT’s launch earlier this year, more than eighty colleges and universities from across the country have signed up to give their students and alumni access to the program. FAME is the first non-college entity to partner with SALT.
“This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between two student loan service providers to address the problems of college affordability and student debt,” stated ASA President Paul Combe. “This kind of creative solution is critical, especially because our nation’s higher education system traditionally does not include these types of proactive activities that teach students the best way to pay for college and manage the resulting debt. We believe the Maine initiative can serve as a replicable model for other states wrangling with these issues,” he added.
According to the Project on Student Debt and the Class of 2010, Maine ranks second in the nation for the highest debt level among four-year college graduates, with an average of $29,983 per student. At an interest rate of 6.8 percent, such debt translates into average monthly payments of $345 for more than 10 years, with total interest expected to be repaid totaling $11,422.
“Maine students often try to navigate the college financing and loan repayment waters with inadequate knowledge of the process and without thinking through the consequences of their indebtedness,” said FAME Chief Executive Officer Beth Bordowitz. “FAME has many initiatives in place to provide that knowledge. With the launch of SALT, FAME is providing another opportunity for Maine students to be better prepared to plan their futures.”
Previous ASA programs have demonstrated that students provided with proactive, customized and targeted communication, such as those provided via SALT, are 50 percent less likely to fail in loan repayment.
American Student Assistance is a private nonprofit whose public purpose mission is to empower students and alumni to successfully manage and repay their college loan debt. The company was established in 1956 as the nation’s first student loan guarantor and is based in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.asa.org.