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10 Social Media Tips for Your Financial Aid Office

April 24, 2015

Social media continues to be a preferred communication method for young college students. Here are ten ways you can effectively reach students through these platforms.

  1. Be mobile-friendly. 50% of Americans ages 18-29 primarily access the internet from their phone.graph
  2. Have a strategy. Identify your purpose for posting, decide which channels will be most effective, develop a schedule, and plan other important aspects of your office’s social media use so you are using your time wisely.
  3. Share others’ content. Don’t be afraid to share posts from others you think your students will find interesting or useful.
  4. tweetCollaborate with other accounts at your institution. Are there other accounts at your school that have a larger student following? Ask them to periodically share your content.
  5. Make it visual. Videos and pictures are more likely to grab the audience’s attention.
  6. Participate in conversations. You don’t always have to start the conversation – don’t be afraid to re-post or reply to students and peers.
  7. Be timely and relevant. Are there holidays or major events coming up? Play into what is on the mind of your audience. They’ll have more of an interest in what you’re saying.
  8. Use FSA’s Financial Aid ToolkitFSA has outlined social media strategies and developed content for your office to use.
  9. Keep it short. Shorter posts are easier for your audience to digest and share.
  10. Diversify efforts. Facebook is losing popularity among teens and young adults. Consider trying other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or even Snapchat.

Learn more and start developing your social media strategy by watching our recently recorded webinar, Tap into Technology.

 

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Upcoming SNAP! Trainings

April 23, 2015

 

4553_SNAP_Training_EM_Sig_FINTo help your school succeed, we offer a live SNAP! Training series for financial aid professionals on Wednesdays. Simple, New, Accessible, and Practical, these webinars will include tutorials, guides, worksheets, and of course, the latest financial aid updates from our expert trainers.

Click on the links below to register for upcoming SNAP! Trainings.

Total and Permanent Disability

As the designated servicer for Total and Permanent Disability, we will give you a general overview of the program and a review of recent changes.

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Exceptional Customer Service

Whether you are interacting with students, parents, or executive management, these tips will empower you to provide exceptional customer service experiences.

Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

A Financial Aid Office Toolkit

During this session, we’ll cover financial planning, loan repayment, and career development tools you can share with your students to help them be successful. We will also share tips for effective student communication.

Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Upcoming Money Mondays

April 23, 2015

Nelnet is committed to providing the resources you need to help your students develop healthy financial habits during and after college. One resource is our Money Mondays webinar series for students, which covers basic financial literacy topics such as budgeting, credit, loans, and more. These occur on Mondays at 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. (ET).

Invite your students to click on a link below and register; we will take it from there!

Understanding Credit Scores and Preventing Identity Theft

Learn the basics and strategies for improving credit scores and how to avoid identity theft.

Date: Monday, May 11, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Monday, May 11, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

 

Understanding Credit Cards

Credit cards can be helpful, but they also have many pitfalls if you aren’t careful. This session covers how to manage credit cards and avoid piling on debt.

Date: Monday, June 1, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Monday, June 1, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Monday, June 8, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Date: Monday, June 8, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Register now

Latest from FSA: FAFSA Parent Reporting Infographic

April 22, 2015

Dependent students must report parent information on their FAFSA, but not everyone’s family situation is the same. This new infographic from FSA helps students determine whose information to include.

 

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Click here to download the infographic.

For more information on reporting parent information on the FAFSA, FSA has an entire web page on the topic. Here, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions, resources, and more.

 

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Income-Driven Repayment FAQs

April 21, 2015

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are a great choice for borrowers who would like to make their student loan debt more manageable by reducing their monthly payment amount. Here are some questions we frequently receive from schools about IDR.

Photo credit: Colin Kinner, flickr

Photo credit: Colin Kinner, flickr

Q: What should we be telling students as to when and how to sign up for IDR plans?

A: Borrowers should be educated about their repayment options. We encourage our school partners to emphasize the importance of having a good relationship with their servicer. Schools can assist by familiarizing students on how to login to NSLDS in order to identify their servicer and obtain their latest loan information. Borrowers should be directed to their servicers to receive counseling on the best options for their specific situation.

Q: My institution requires students to complete the Department of Education online exit interview. That process requires the student to choose a repayment plan. Is this information automatically transferred to the servicer, and is the selected repayment plan applied to the borrower’s loans?

A: Yes, the information does get transferred to the servicer, who is required to use it. However if the borrower chooses IDR, it cannot be automatically applied without additional information and application. If a borrower requests an IDR plan prior to 90 days from their entrance into repayment, we communicate the proper timing and procedures for doing so.

Within 60 days before their due date, the borrower will have to provide proof of income at the time of submission for the app. The borrower must qualify for Partial Financial Hardship every year. The borrower must provide income information using one of these methods:

  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
    • Most recent federal income tax return, or
    • IRS tax return transcript, or
    • IRS Data Retrieval Tool (in the application)
  • If the borrower doesn’t meet conditions for documenting usingAGI, they did not file an income tax return in the past two years, or their income on the most recent tax return is significantlydifferent than their current income (such as in the case of unemployment)
    • Two of their most recent pay stubs
    • Alternative documentation of income

Q: If a student nearing graduation contacts Nelnet, what kind of guidance on IDR options will they receive?

A: Regardless of when the call occurs, we counsel borrowers based on their specific situation. We walk through their online account, have them look at their entire loan portfolio, explain payment options, and utilize calculators to counsel them on the best repayment plan for their situation. If they’re interested in IDR, we’ll go over the timeline for application and approval.

We inform borrowers on their account and repayment options using a variety of communication channels:

Have more questions? Feel free to contact your Regional Director or the School Service Center (866.463.5638).

 

Lou Murray, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Lou Murray, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

A New Approach to Reaching Your Students, Part III: Late Stage Delinquency

April 20, 2015

What You Know: Nsight Plus Letter Merge

As you may already know, Nsight Plus, Nelnet’s free reporting tool for schools, offers the ability to generate student-specific letters about their current student loan status. Administrators are able to easily pull borrower data from Nsight Plus, merge the data with the appropriate letter, place letters on your institution’s letterhead, and send by email or physical mail. Letter options include:

  • Deferment Ending – For borrowers within 60 days of their deferment end date
  • Forbearance Ending – For borrowers within 60 days of their forbearance end date
  • X-Days Past DueFor borrowers between 60 and 240 days delinquent
  • Late Stage Delinquency – For borrowers between 241 and 360 days delinquent

You are able to create either letters for a group of students or just individual letters. These letters are available for any borrower serviced by Nelnet, along with those serviced by EdFinancial, Granite State, OSLA, and VSAC. Click here for a step-by-step guide to creating these letters.

A New Approach: Combining Communication with Education

On their own, Nsight Plus’ letters are valuable default prevention and management tools. However, combined with the appropriate Nelnet resources, we think these letters could be an especially powerful tool for your institution. By using our letters in tandem with our resources, borrowers will not only be informed of their loan status, but they will also receive a brief, to-the-point education on topics critical to them in their current status. This is the third article in our series that looks at how to effectively package letters from Nsight Plus with Nelnet’s resources. In previous articles, we have addressed how to use the Deferment Ending and Forbearance Ending letters.

The X-Days Past Due letter is sent to borrowers between 60 and 240 days delinquent. It tells them how many days past due their loan payment is and to take action immediately to resolve the issue. The letter reminds borrowers that a variety of repayment options are available and that Nelnet can help them determine the best solution for their situation. Here is an example of the X-Days Past Due letter:

x days past due

Every borrower’s situation is unique – their loans could be past due for a variety of reasons. No matter the reason for delinquency, it is important to make sure borrowers fully understand the serious consequences of default. It is just as important that they know how to correct their situation. We have two resources available that address these specific topics. How to Avoid Delinquency and Default on Your Student Loan reminds borrowers what delinquency and default are, lists consequences of default, and briefly describes how delinquency and default can be avoided. Four Easy Ways to Avoid Delinquency or Default on Your Student Loan points out ways borrowers can connect with Nelnet to take action on their loans. By including these resources when you send borrowers their X-Days Past Due letters, you can help them avoid default and identify a repayment plan that works for them.

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To sign up for Nsight Plus and start integrating our letters into your school’s default prevention plan, click here. For a look at more useful resources, visit our library.

 

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Leadership Learning Moments: Recovering

April 20, 2015

Leadership Learning Moments is a three part blog series that walks leaders through the process of making mistakes (or as I like to call them, learning moments) with confidence.

As a leader, you will make mistakes – sometimes more often than you would like to admit. It’s part of being human and being a leader. Seldom when you are asked about a leadership characteristic or to define what leadership means to you does the word “mistake” come up. Why, as leaders, are we not being taught how to confront making mistakes and how to work through the process? So when you have made a mistake, what do you do next? This three-step technique will help you through the mistake-making process.

  1. Admit
  2. Learn
  3. Recover

Recover: Figure out what’s next.

Knowing how to recover from mistakes means the difference between regaining people’s trust and losing their respect – or even your job. Recovery is for your team and your organization. You want to find solutions that don’t leave the clean up to anyone else. Help bring people together by steering the energy back to a positive position.

  • Seek wisdom: Ask for assistance or get a mentor.
  • Restore trust: Do whatever you can to stop further damages from occurring. If there are financial issues involved, try to recover as much as you can. If there is collateral damage with relationships, apologize quickly and try to restore trust. A humble, yet not martyred, and confident response is usually best in these situations.
  • Commit to change: Move on and put the learning moment behind you. You want to collaborate and plan for the future. Share and practice the plan. Follow-through goes a long way.

Progress won’t be a straight line, but if you keep learning, you will have more successes than failures, and the learning moments that you have created along the way will help you get to where you want to go.

Remember, the way you respond after a mistake always determines the quality of recovery.

“Mistakes are not a problem. Not learning from them is.” – Anonymous

 

Nycci Jones, Learning and Development Consultant, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Nycci Jones, Learning and Development Consultant, Nelnet Partner Solutions