At a time when many colleges are experiencing increasing default rates on student loans, Valencia is at the helm of an upturn in a lagging economy. In 2009, Valencia’s Cohort Default Rate was 18.8 percent and decreased to 17.4 percent in 2010 – no small feat considering student loan debt in the country is now at a $1 trillion.
So what is the Cohort Default Rate (CDR)? CDR refers to a group of Stafford Loan borrowers who enter loan repayment within a given federal fiscal year. The CDR measures the percentage of those students in a school’s cohort who default within a specified time period. Valencia’s rate is on the decline, which means that fewer of our students are going into default or are unable to make payments on their loans.
Christen Christensen, director of financial aid, attributes the decrease to Valencia’s two-pronged approach, which includes educating students on the loan process through a Financial Literacy Program and following up with students to provide exit counseling and options for repayment. In 2009, Ilia Cordero, coordinator of financial aid at the Osceola Campus, led the implementation of the Financial Learning Ambassador (FLA) Program. This peer-to-peer financial literacy mentoring program was designed to educate students through their peers on money management. The pilot program was an amazing success, and in 2010, the college received a $25,000 grant from USA Funds to expand the FLA program collegewide.
Currently, there are a total of 18 financial learning ambassadors, with six per campus at Osceola, East and West. During the 2012-13 academic year, the financial learning ambassadors met with over 5,000 students. This is the second year that the college has received a grant from USA Funds, and due to the success of Valencia’s program they have awarded the college funding again to support the program for the 2013-14 academic year.