Students can learn how to be financially responsible through the online program SALT, according to Dominic Yoia, associate vice president and university director of financial aid.
The financial aid office partnered with the American Student Assistance (ASA) to bring the SALT program, which launched last Wednesday, to the university, according to Yoia. ASA has 220 other clients who use SALT, Yoia said.
“It’s all for the benefit of the student,” he said. “It’s about educating the student with real-world lessons and possibly minimizing their loan debt, so when they graduate making those loan payments is much more manageable.”
The university signed a two-year contract with ASA for $10,000 for the program, which is free for students, according to Yoia. This money comes from the financial aid office’s budget, he said.
“It just seemed like the pricing was more than fair for what we were looking to do,” Yoia said. “It was a product that we felt we needed and requested actually last year an additional amount to be awarded in our institutional aid budget to cover that product.”
The SALT program is designed to educate students through every step in their college careers, so they are not surprised by how much money they have borrowed at graduation, he said.
“As a 17-year-old student, you come to college [and] you sign whatever your parents put in front of you,” Yoia said. “We’re trying to provide an ongoing education, so that they are fully aware of what they are doing and how much they are borrowing and what their rights and responsibilities are and what it’s going to cost and how to borrow responsibly.”
Freshman Elizabeth Bartilucci said she is worried about paying her student loans back.
“I think [the university] could make us more aware of what is going to happen or what we are going to have to pay off once we graduate,” she said. “Right now it’s in the back of our heads, but it’s not, like, real.”
Bartilucci said SALT is a “step in the right direction” to teach students about these issues.
Freshman Rob Devine said he is a little nervous about paying back his student loans.
“It’s going to be a lot of money,” he said. “But I just hope I find a good job out of college to help pay that back.”
The program does not just teach about student loans. SALT also has information on credit card management, internships, job searching and interview tips, Yoia said.
“Obviously the interview gets you the job,” he said. “The job gives you the ability to pay back your loans, so it’s all kind of connected.”
The messages students receive from SALT will be targeted depending on their year.
“Seniors might be getting information on loan repayment, job searches,” Yoia said. “And freshmen might be getting information about credit card debt and borrowing responsibly and so forth.”
The financial aid office has been working with the ASA for about a year to customize the product for Quinnipiac, according to Yoia. The university eliminated some aspects of the program.
“We didn’t feel it was necessary to keep engaging students 10 years past their graduation date,” Yoia said. “We wanted to use this strictly for financial literacy education while you’re with us for four years.”
The university will have a better idea of the number of students who have signed up and the success of the program in the early summer, according to Yoia.
The financial aid office will be promoting SALT through social media, posters, emails, the Student Government Association, Residential Life and Student Affairs, according to Yoia.
“It’s not just a financial aid product,” he said. “It’s paralleling the university learning paradigm where learning does go on outside the classroom.”
Students can sign up for SALT through an email sent last Wednesday or on https://www.saltmoney.org/register/. Students can opt in or out of the program at any time, Yoia said.