|Organization Name:||St Stephen’s University|
|Location:||St Stephen NB|
|Project Title:||Student Debt Reduction Pilot Project|
|Purpose of Investment:||To develop an innovative pilot employment and aid program to assist students to graduate with less debt.|
Many students at St. Stephen’s University rely on student loans and graduate with crippling levels of debt. Of our 2018 graduating class, 58% left with more than $20,000 of debt (20% of those students had more than $40,000). Although our students may be unaware of the implications of the debt they’re incurring, the faculty and staff are not. We are committed to finding ways to help, beginning with a pilot project designed to dramatically reduce 8 upper-level students’ reliance on loans.
A Director would be hired to help students develop individualized plans to reduce/eliminate their reliance on loans. The Director would coach students as they navigate the job search, seek scholarships, and learn money management skills that would help them reduce spending. This would also involve five streams of revenue:
- Ongoing part-time employment;
- Campaign to friends/family following a “community-supported education” model;
- Forgivable loan/mentorship program through which individuals, foundations, or other organizations provide forgivable loans (forgiven upon completion of the degree). Donors would be encouraged to develop mentoring relationships with the students;
- Bursaries and scholarships;
- Maximizing potential for government bursaries through wise use of available government student aid.
The Director would also establish a rapport with local businesses, inviting them to partner with us based on Memoranda of Understanding. Our marketing department would advertise the Director position and a team of faculty and staff would do the hiring. The Director would be responsible for developing the pilot program, working with the students throughout the year, and reporting to SSU at the end of the pilot phase.
The main beneficiaries would be the 8 participating students who would complete the 2019-20 academic year with little to no additional debt incurred. As this program is developed we anticipate that some students may take longer to complete their degree (5 or 6 years, rather than 4) but participation in this stream would reduce debt and offer practical life skills and work experience. Future students would also benefit because of the pilot program. There would be significant indirect benefits. The university would benefit from higher recruitment; financial stewardship skills would spread to the broader student base; local businesses would benefit from having dedicated employees; & donor-mentors would receive tax receipts and the satisfaction of having supported a young person through a critical period of growth.
- Students graduating with little debt;
- Increased awareness of general life skills (job-related, time management, etc.) among the student body;
- University’s practices lining up more closely to its mission;
- Contribution to the Town of St. Stephen;
- Higher recruitment and greater financial stability for SSU.
1) To have eight 3rd or 4th-year students complete one academic year (2019-20) with less than $1,000 of additional debt accrued.
2) To promote financial literacy within the broader student base by means of four guest speaker presentations, two small group encouragement sessions, and four in-house coaching sessions during this first academic year.
3) Based on the pilot project’s outcomes, the Director will create a report that establishes a sustainable model for subsequent years. This will include the identification of 4 local businesses and 8 donor-mentors willing to begin/continue helping students to reduce/eliminate the amount of debt they accrue for their education. This phase of the project will be complete by August, 2020.