Plan Your Communications
By now you've segmented your student borrower population into groups that have something in common and your communication will use these similarities to appeal to these student borrowers.
What Do You Tell Student Borrowers?
Your message will likely be different depending on the population you are talking with. However, the goal of your communications should be the same: to bring the borrower current though payment. For instance, if you're trying to reach someone that has recently gone into delinquency, you can explain that they have options to help them become current with their loans and that the best way is to make a payment. If they are having financial problems and payment is not possible they can contact their servicer to find out about programs that can help, such as deferment, forbearance and alternate payment plans.
Once you move to some of your other groups with higher delinquency, you should talk to them about the effect of deliquency on their credit and the consequences of default. You can also let them know that once they default they lose the ability to postpone payments through deferment and forbearance.
Communicating By Phone
If you decide that the phone will be the most effective way to communicate to your student borrowers there are some guidlines to follow.
- Remember your goal: Payment is the best way to resolve any delinquency. You should only move on to postponing payments if the student borrower cannot pay.
- Be understanding and calm.
- Maintain a positive tone and attitude, if the student borrower feels that you are not willing to be respectful he will not be respectful to you.
- Explain that you are trying to help and that by taking care of the delinquency early they may avoid some of the negative consequences of extended delinquency and default.
- Explain the consequences of default. Respectfully convey the impact on his or her credit rating and financial stability.
Communicating By E-Mail
If you decide to go with e-mail as your primary medium of reaching out to student borrowers there are advantages and disadvantages. With e-mail the language in your letters can escalate the further the student borrower gets behind on payments.
We'll start with the Advantages:
- You can reach multiple student borrowers at one time.
- You can provide links to other helpful information
- You can insert your school's branding.
- You can automate the process so your time can be spent doing other things.
Now let's look at the Disadvantages
- It's difficult to convey feeling through e-mail.
- E-mails are less personal than talking over the phone.
- E-mails can be routed or lost in a student borrower's spam folder.
- You cannot make decisions about what type of assistance a student borrower needs.
Communicating By Mail
Using mail to communicate with your student borrowers has many of the same advantages and disadvantages of using e-mail. As with e-mail the language in your letters can escalate the further the student borrower gets behind on payments.
Other concerns with mail are that it can be cost-prohibitive, especially if you have a small staff, many delinquent student borrowers, and a widespread alumni base.
Another reason that mail works in specific instances only is because you have to keep up with the student borrower. Many recent graduates and students that stop going to school move around a lot. Unless you have a system for skip tracing your student borrowers or keeping your records up to date there is a lot of maintenance required to send letters.
Communicating By Social Media
Social media has become one of the best ways to communicate with student borrowers. It's fast, easy and most student borrowers will have some kind of social media presence The good news is that your school probably has a social media presence whether it's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or one of the countless other networks. Your financial aid office may have it's own social media presence. If you don't, talk with your administration about creating your own social media pages.
Using social media, you can proactively contact students that are in some of the target groups before they go delinquent and give them tips on how to avoid delinquency. You can also contact those that are delinquent and get your foot in the door. You may also want to use social media to supplement some of your other activities. Social Media is a great way to get the word out about financial literacy events and what your office offers for student borrowers.
A warning about social media. Most student borrowers see their Facebook pages as their private property so you don't want to spend too much time looking at their activities. Social media is a good way to get in, leave a message and get out. Also, make sure you monitor your social media presence because it only takes one or two students with hords of followers to give your office a bad name.
Click Here for some tips on tracking your efforts.