New office educates students about loans


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Richard Hartnett, Language Arts and Sciences Senator for the Government Student Body, discusses funding of the Student Loan Education Office during the GSB meeting on Oct. 22 in the Campanile Room.

Oscar Alvarez

Student debt has a way of creeping up on students at the same time they are entering the working force. To combat that problem, the Government of the Student Body funded a new office to teach students how to manage loans. 

The Student Loan Education Office is a new office that has begun providing financial counseling services this year. It was created through a partnership between GSB, a division of Student Affairs and Office of Student Financial Aid.

The Student Loan Education Office, located in Beardshear Hall 0680, serves students by being a resource to help reduce their student loan debt while learning how to effectively manage their finances while pursuing a college degree.

Hillary Kletscher, president of GSB, began working on the Student Loan Education Office last year as a vice president.

Last semester, GSB conducted a review of all of the services they fund for students which included a Financial Counseling Clinic.

“We were looking at how the student fee dollars we were allocating to those offices were being used,” said Kletscher. “When doing the review of the Financial Counseling Clinic, last year’s chief of staff and last year’s president found some discrepancies in the number of students that were being served. They found that number was actually decreasing,” said Kletscher.

Kletscher stated that the focus of what the Financial Counseling Clinic was doing had shifted, and GSB thought students were not using the clinic enough to justify funding it with student fees. 

Last year’s GSB president Spencer Hughes created the solution that the clinic would serve the community at large through a teaching aspect while the Student Loan Education Office would focus directly on students.

“So after putting all the figures together, and working with the Division of Student Affairs and getting the Vice President of Student Affairs, Tom Hill, on board to help us create a new service, the GSB Senate voted to pull the funds from the Financial Counseling Clinic.”

The Student Loan Education Office differs from the Financial Counseling Clinic because they meet with students one on one to discuss, in depth, their financial situations and their concerns. They also hold presentations for classes, groups, residence halls or Greek houses that discusses basic financial aid, student loans, student loan repayment, credit and budgeting.

Roberta Johnson, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, believes students fall in debt for a variety of reasons.

“It’s a combination of things. One is family savings have not kept pace with the cost of education and as a result students are needing to borrow to make up that difference because they don’t have savings to pay for their schooling,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said while Iowa State and the curriculum offered is attractive to students, they may enroll even though it is out of their price range.

“In order to make it work for them they borrow. They then realize once they obtain their degree that their job prospects are pretty good, so their ability to repay their student loans will be good,” Johnson said.

Johnson stated that the third reason students fall into debt has to do with lifestyle choices they make while in college.

“As a result, they’re not living like a student while in school. Rather they are trying to live the life of a young professional and they unfortunately accrue debt to live that lifestyle. As a result, they may have to end up living like a student when they get out of school.”

Abhijit Patwa, finance director of GSB, said he believes students will react well to the Student Loan Education Office.

“I am very hopeful that we get a good audience. I think it is a very good step we are taking,” said Patwa.

“Just [Oct. 22], there was a rally earlier about student debt. It is a big, huge issue and I am hopeful that a lot of students that feel they don’t have a proper avenue to go to right now will make use of this place.”

Patwa mentioned that the Student Loan Education Office will require all students who are taking federal loans to at some point go visit the office to understand the procedures.

Students are allowed to opt out of the visit, but the Student Loan Education Office will highly encourage students with federal loans to come visit and ask any questions.

“These people are trained, they’ve been in the field for years, they know what they are doing, they have answers to all the questions” said Patwa.