Experimental Sites Initiative – Federal Direct Loan Online Counseling
The U.S. Department of Education has selected MSU Denver to participate in their Experimental Site Initiative (ESI) involving Federal Direct Loan counseling.
What is the ESI?
ESI is a new supplemental Federal Direct Loan counseling program delivered to students online on an annual basis.
The ESI is an amazing opportunity for MSU Denver students to shape the future of loan counseling for student borrowers across the United States. MSU Denver will be reporting select student aid and academic data to the Department of Education, which hopes to use this information to improve loan counseling, promote successful loan repayment, and increase student academic performance.
Why is the Department of Education conducting this experiment?
The total student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed $1.4 trillion for the first time ever. Nationally, 40% of borrowers with high debt report no memory of receiving loan counseling, and over 50% of student borrowers report not knowing what their monthly payments might be when they accepted their loan funds. We’re hoping to improve those numbers by empowering our students to better understand the ins and outs of Federal Direct Loans. If we’re successful, our students will be more informed of the strategies for responsibly leveraging Federal Direct Loans as a wise investment in their futures.
What does this mean for MSU Denver students?
Like all scientific experiments, measuring the impacts of the ESI counseling requires a control group (students who do not receive the supplemental counseling) and an experimental treatment group (students who do receive the counseling). Beginning with the 2018-2019 year, MSU Denver students selected for the treatment group will be required to complete additional loan counseling online every year until they complete their degree. Student placement in the control and experimental groups is determined by the criteria provided by the Department of Education and, due to the nature of the experiment, cannot be changed or appealed.
Students selected as a participant in the ESI will receive an email from the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships containing a link to the supplemental counseling module after they accept Federal Direct Loan funds as part of their financial aid award. Loans will be eligible for disbursement only after the completion of the annual counseling requirement.
What if I need help completing the online counseling?
To meet the diverse accessibility needs of our student population, and to assist those who may require assistance navigating the online counseling, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships offers guided assistance on campus. Please visit our office in the Jordan Student Success Building if you would like guidance navigating the counseling platform.
I wasn’t selected for the experimental group but I’d like to access the information provided in the counseling. What are my options?
Students not selected as a participant in the ESI will not be able to opt in to the experimental treatment group, however, they will still have the option of utilizing the financial literacy resources provided by the University’s new Students Accessing Financial Empowerment ($AFE) Initiative. $AFE is a group of students, alumni, faculty, and staff working to provide the entire university community with actionable strategies and resources for financial empowerment. Find tools for money management, a calendar of upcoming events, and more at www.msudenver.edu/safe/
All students have the option of completing the Department of Education's Financial Awareness Counseling tool (FACT), independent of their placement in the ESI. FACT may be accessed at www.studentloans.gov/fact.
Note: FACT counseling is not the same as, and cannot replace, ESI counseling. If you have been selected for ESI counseling, you must complete it by using the link at the top of this page. FACT counseling is available to supplement your financial awareness; however completion it is not required to receive financial aid.