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UH Hilo recognized for debt management

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Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has earned an Excellence in Debt Management award from USA Funds, the nation’s leading loan guarantor. UH Hilo is one of only four postsecondary institutions in the nation to receive the merit award, based on its innovative methods to help students minimize and manage their student loan debt.

Denise B. Feser, USA Funds senior vice president of customer relations, said that UH Hilo’s debt management practices “exemplify the best efforts of postsecondary institutions nationwide to promote responsible borrowing and to help former students successfully repay their student loans.”

The default rate for student loans at UH Hilo is 3.2 percent, compared to 7.9 percent for the 2001-02 school year. According to Jeff Scofield, UH Hilo financial aid director, UH Hilo’s default rate is well below the national average of 5.2 percent and the public institution average of 4.7 percent.

“We are proud that USA Funds has recognized UH Hilo with this award,” said Scofield. “We take a proactive, multifaceted approach to ensure that our students receive the financial aid they need while maintaining their debt load at a manageable level.”

UH Hilo has experienced a 31 percent increase in enrollment since 2001. Members of the financial aid staff collaborate with faculty presenting workshops to freshmen on money management, budgeting, and student loan and credit card debt. The University provides loan counseling in a variety of formats, including Web-based, group advising and individual appointments, and has been updating students on their current student loan debt levels with each new financial aid award notice. UH Hilo’s exit counseling materials include a detailed summary of each student's loans.

“This award takes on special significance in these times of economic stress when families worry about debt,” said Dr. Luoluo Hong, UH Hilo vice chancellor for student affairs. “It emphasizes the value and affordability of a quality education at UH Hilo.”

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