In hopes of ensuring that college students don’t assume too much debt in pursuing a degree, the U.S. Department of Education is launching a trial program to provide loan counseling to students while they’re still in school.
Students already receive some level of counseling when they first take out a loan and again when they leave or finish school and must start repayment. The federal program would see that students also get counseling in between, according to a report on TheStreet.com.
The goal of this new layer of face-to-face counseling would be, in part, to make sure each student is not taking on more loans than they could reasonably pay back, given their anticipated first job. A general rule of thumb is that loans should not total more than the average annual starting salary in the student’s field of study.
Colleges and universities that sign up for the trial program will randomly place students into two groups for comparison: those who get the extra loan counseling and those who receive the usual entrance and exit counseling.
“We’re keen to understand not only whether required loan counseling works, but what kind of loan counseling is most effective,” said Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell at the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators conference in Washington, D.C.