Student loan debt has hit a high of $1.75 trillion in the United States, with the average public university student borrowing $32,880 to attain a bachelor’s degree. More than 60 percent of borrowers are Pell Grant recipients, who are twice as likely to be Black and other students of color compared to their white peers.
And while the Biden Administration’s recently announced debt relief plan may alleviate the burden of some of the borrowers, the rising costs of higher education will remain a challenge for younger Americans. They “may have to borrow more often and in greater amounts to attend school,” according to researchers Ana Hernández Kent and Lowell Ricketts from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
So, students need all the help they can get if they want to graduate with less debt.
And Moneythink, a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 by a group of University of Chicago undergraduate students, has been doing just that.
The organization believes that college affordability, student success and student debt are inter-related challenges that stand in the way of historically underrepresented students achieving college success. Just 11 percent of low-income students attain a college degree within six years, compared to 58 percent of their high-income peers.
To help students graduate with little or no debt, Moneythink teaches them to make informed financial decisions, both immediate and long-term, and build financial wellness habits “through empathy, mentorship, education, coaching, and practical and emotional support.”
Over the years, Moneythink has developed a “nimble, proactive approach” that enables it “to meet and adapt to students’ evolving needs while also tackling the ever-shifting college ecosystem and financial aid changes at hand.”
DecidED: Helping Students Make Informed College Enrollment Decisions
In 2020, Moneythink launched DecidED, a free college affordability comparison tool for students and advisors. DecidED benefits students in three ways.
First, students learn to “quickly and accurately” assess and understand their financial award letter.
Second, they learn to compare the affordability of their college options so they can make an informed decision as to which college will give them the highest chance of graduating with the least amount of debt.
Finally, they identify how much they have to pay for college and learn about various financial aid options.
In addition to the student benefits, advisors and counselors spend less time inputting data and more time guiding students to a college where they can successfully graduate with the least amount of debt.
Advisors and counselors can partner with DecidED and discover how they can use DecidED for free to streamline support for students.
Follow Moneythink on TUN
Students can also follow Moneythink on TUN to get news and learn about new internship and volunteering opportunities