Dollars and sense

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Nancy Hoover’s light-filled office window on the third floor of Beth Eden overlooks Chapel Walk. Every day she can see Denison students going to and from classes, meals, practices and meetings. And that’s appropriate; many of them are here because of the aid they receive through her office.

“Being able to help good students afford college is important to me,” says Hoover, who is the director of financial aid.

Hoover’s office does the important work of coordinating financial aid for the large majority of Denison students, which allows them to graduate with some of the lowest overall debt rates in the country. In 2010, (the latest date for which these figures are available) fewer than half of Denison’s graduates had any debt at all; and for the rest, the average debt was less than $16,300, which, according to Kiplinger’s, places Denison 13th in the nation and first in Ohio with the lowest debt per student at graduation.

And as for paying back those loans, Denison has the lowest student loan default rate in Central Ohio (and beyond) with a rate of three-tenths of one percent (0.3%). Compare that to a national average 8.8 percent default rate for all schools according to a Business First article that cites figures from the U S. Department of Education.

Hoover takes her job so seriously that she also works to help at the national level. She just returned from Washington, D.C., where she was invited to testify before Congress about the merits and challenges of the Federal Direct Loan Program (DL). She spoke as the immediate past chair of the National Direct Student Loan Coalition and as a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Hoover says that the DL program has been an asset to her office since it was introduced, and Denison decided to implement the program in 1995-1996.

“Since 1965, student loans have been backed by the federal government.  Before the Direct Loan programs, loans were processed by lenders that were subsidized by taxpayer dollars to lend the money to students,” she says. “At times my office would deal with as many as 85 to 100 different lenders across the country. The complexity of the system was very difficult to work with and often caused delays in students receiving their funds. When the DL program was first implemented in 1994-95, it allowed students to  borrow directly from the federal government, ensured the availability of loan for all students, and simplified the loan processing to eliminated delayed delivery of funds.”

Hoover says it’s a win-win-win situation. “The Direct Loan Program is good for all the constituents; the students get their loans for education, the schools have a streamlined process that lessens financial confusion, and the taxpayers no longer pay subsidies to private lenders for these loans.”

Nancy Hoover speaks to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee:

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