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Evaluating the Benefits of Additional College Loan Counseling


  • Many students lack the financial knowledge to make optimal choices about borrowing to pay for college.
  • Abt is conducting a random assignment evaluation of the effects of additional loan counseling for students.
  • A final report will provide key findings.
The Challenge

Roughly two-thirds of students take loans to pay for college, and many have difficulty repaying them; more than 500,000 students default on their loans each year. To reduce repayment challenges and in response to a presidential directive to help borrowers manage their debt, participating colleges can require some borrowers to complete additional loan counseling each year instead of only in their first and last year. The Institute of Education Sciences contracted with Abt Global to assess the effectiveness of requiring additional loan counseling on students taking loans with better terms, borrowing an affordable amount, and completing college, which can facilitate successful loan repayment.

The Approach

The evaluation uses a random assignment design to test the effects of additional loan counseling on borrowing and school progress among approximately 100,000 students in 39 colleges. The evaluation relies on administrative records on students, as well as surveys of colleges about how they carry out the additional loan counseling. Abt’s evaluation will address the following research questions: 

  1. Does requiring additional loan counseling improve students’ borrowing decisions and persistence in college?
  2. Are the effects of requiring additional loan counseling consistent across different groups of students and different types of colleges?
  3. How do colleges carry out the additional loan counseling, and are some approaches more effective than others?
The Results

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.