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Great Lakes' Free Tool Adds Early Engagement Outreach Campaigns for Schools

Portfolio Navigator Helps Schools Connect Current Students with Servicers for Repayment Planning Help

—Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc., a nationwide servicer of federal loans, recently added early engagement campaigns to their free portfolio management tool, Portfolio Navigator, to address the need for students to gain understanding of their student loans while still in school.

While recently released official cohort default rates indicate a downward trend in the number of students who defaulted on their federal loans, studies show that there's room for improvement when it comes to increasing current students' awareness of their debt load. Without understanding their loans, students may borrow more than they'll be able to repay—and many fail to complete their programs because they're unaware of repayment options that will be available to them.

13% of students don't know they have a loan. 37% of students underestimate their loan debt. 10% of students underestimate their loan debt by $10,000+. Source: Do you know what you owe? Students' Understanding of Their Student Loans (Journal of Financial Aid)

An early connection with their servicer helps students make informed academic and borrowing decisions that can help set them up for both academic and repayment success. As Great Lakes' Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Brett Lindquist points out, "It's not enough to help students avoid default. We want them to make wise decisions while they're in school to help them complete their programs and lead to later financial stability."

Great Lakes recognizes that many financial aid offices face a lack of resources to educate students about their loans, or to connect them with their servicers for such assistance. To address this need, Great Lakes recently unveiled two campaigns in Portfolio Navigator's outreach component, Action Center. One campaign helps schools encourage all of their current students to understand who their servicer is and why they should connect with them while they're in school. The other campaign encourages current students who have loans serviced by Great Lakes to create a Great Lakes website account for access to important loan and repayment information.

With the addition of early engagement campaigns to this free tool, Great Lakes—committed to helping students to access, complete, and repay their education since 1967—believes busy financial aid offices can help students succeed in completing their education and setting a path for financial stability, with minimal time, and no investment.

In February 2015, Great Lakes added to Portfolio Navigator the capability for schools to upload, view, and filter National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) data to use with Action Center. Feedback from financial aid professionals shaped development of the tool, and response has been positive by schools that previously lacked time and resources to do default prevention outreach. "In addition to allowing us to process communications for all servicers in one step, [Action Center] offers a variety of options to help meet the needs of individual schools," says Terry M. Micks, Loan Programs Coordinator at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Financial aid professionals are invited to register for a free SmartSessions webinar, Portfolio Navigator: Your New Default Management Tool, to learn more and get started—or contact their Great Lakes representative. For more information about Portfolio Navigator and Action Center, as well as other default management, loan servicing, and private loan processing resources Great Lakes offers, visit

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