New, free service to educate students about college loans

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

Borrowing money from the federal government to help pay for college is a big commitment.

That’s why Parkland is partnering with American Student Assistance to offer SALT, an educational program that helps students understand the loan process.

SALT is a free service for students that offers financial counseling seven days a week.

“SALT is basically a financial literacy website for students and within that there’s going to be helpful information for students who are using student loans. There is free student loan counseling as well,” said Dawn Good, a financial aid advisor and the loan default coordinator at Parkland.

According to the SALT website, “SALT is a free, nonprofit-backed educational program that helps every student who wants a college degree to get it in a financially responsible way.”

Kimberly Gavrilles is Parkland’s SALT Client Manager. She works with the financial aid office and Good to help build awareness about SALT.

“Students need to be informed about the implications of borrowing money for college and approach the process armed with as much information as possible as well as a full understanding of how it will impact their life when they graduate,” Gavrilles said. “Earning an education should be a stepping stone to a bright future rather than a financial ball and chain.”

Working as the liaison between Parkland and the SALT program, part of Good’s job is help make sure students don’t default on loans.

However, Parkland doesn’t have the manpower to hunt everyone down that has defaulted on their loans. That’s why the need for a third party arose and Good felt SALT provided the best options for students.

Student loans can be deferred as long as the student is taking six or more credit hours. Once the student falls below six, stops taking classes, or graduates then they have a six-month grace period to begin paying the loan(s) back. If they fail to do so then they default on the loan(s).

SALT will also be contacting students who have student loans through Parkland that are entering their grace period.

Christa Labanara is a SALT counselor and also a team leader.

“As a team leader I counsel and provide guidance to SALT members who call in for assistance with their student loans. I make sure that members I speak with are fully educated on all possible loan repayment or rehabilitation options that may be available to them, and how to apply,” Labanara stated.

Labanara explained that SALT was created to empower students and family to help manage and pay back the cost of going to college while gaining necessary financial skills. She said that the counselors’ job is to help sort out the confusing aspects of paying student loans back. They get them on the right track and help borrowers from becoming delinquent on their loans.

SALT is helpful in the sense of loan counseling and providing information about paying back students. It can also provide avenues for students that have never borrowed or don’t need to.

“It’s also beneficial to other students on campus. There’s information on scholarships, how to apply, and different search engines for them. There’s also information on internships and job tools. In addition there’s basic budgeting tips and ways to develop good financial habits,” Good said.

The service fee to join has been paid by Parkland and all students can sign up for free at saltmoney.org/parklandcollege. Any questions about the program can be directed to Dawn Good at dgood@parkland.edu.

Below is a flyer for SALT! Click to open.

011_Flyer-SALT Registration – Parkland