MOHAVE COUNTY – Mohave Community College students are proving to be fiscally responsible, helping cut the college student loan default rate in half.

The most recently available figures show the 2016 fiscal year cohort default rate for MCC is 14.8%, which is below the national average of 15.9% for two-year public institutions. The college’s rate has continuously dropped since 2010 when it was 32.7%.

Much of the credit for the dramatic rate drop can be found inside the MCC Financial Aid Office. Employees have been working diligently to make sure students are financially literate, which includes keeping them informed of their college loan status, and the importance of paying back those loans.

“It feels incredible! I would say it’s a great accomplishment for the school, the students and for our financial aid team,” said Heather Patenaude, director of financial aid.

Resources that the financial aid office provides students include counseling sessions that inform them about how the loan process works. The financial aid office also sends debt summary letters that show each student their individual estimated debt, payment amount and overall money paid.

“We get data from the student loan data-base system, so all of our enrolled students will get a history of what their loan debt is and they receive a sample of repayment information,” Financial Aid Manager Lisa Downey said, as she described one of the many steps the college has taken to help students.

The financial aid office has been working very hard to bring the default rate down since it hit more 30% in 2010.  At one point, the college was in danger of losing the ability to offer students federal aid because so many students were defaulting on their loans.

The entire college worked together with the Financial Aid Office to help educate students about fiscal responsibility, said Downey. The goal is to help students become financially responsible while in college and for the rest of their lives.

Patenaude said the lower default rates show the effort is working. Students are better informed about their loans and they are making the correct decisions now, which will help improve their financial success in the future.

Heather Patenaude, Financial Aid Director

Lisa Downey, Financial Aid Manager