Blackhawk Technical College Student

Blackhawk Technical College Students Borrow $700,000 Less, Regain Financial Aid Eligibility

Students Share How In-Person Counseling, GradReady Led to Positive Financial Behaviors

—One year after adding GradReady to in-person counseling for certain student groups, Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) is seeing significant impacts. The school saw a $700,000 decrease in student borrowing and notes that, of their students who were ineligible for federal aid due to issues with Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), 75 percent of them returned to good standing as a result of using GradReady.

Offered free by Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates, GradReady® is an online financial wellness counseling program that helps students estimate the impact of college completion on future earning potential and understand the effect money management choices have on their ability to access educational financing.

Decrease in Student Borrowing of $700,000

BTC's policy is to award unsubsidized loans to borrowers who have less than $20,000 in student loan debt. Eligible students who want to take out more unsubsidized loans must meet with a financial advisor to discuss the implications and complete the GradReady modules Paying for College and Money Skills. As of June 30, 2016, 408 students had completed this process despite being informed by BTC that it was a school policy and not a federal mandate. With the change, BTC has seen an estimated $700,000 reduction in student borrowing.

Third-semester accounting major Joel Heaberlin completed this process, and says GradReady's information and tools for loan repayment, in particular, are impactful: "When it comes specifically to school and loans, then definitely GradReady is better [than my accounting classes] because it goes into more depth."

75 Percent of Students Return to Good Standing

BTC requires students who have lost eligibility for financial aid due to issues with SAP to complete GradReady's Money Management module as part of their academic plan. They also must use the program's budget tool and Debt-O-Meter, a tool that helps students measure the impact of their actual borrowing on future payments and their ability to pay based on expected post-graduation income for their program.

Preliminary findings show that 75 percent of BTC students on probation for financial aid have returned to good standing.

Students Adopt Positive Financial Behaviors and Habits

Third-semester business management student Jessica Crawford hopes to graduate debt-free in spring 2017, thanks in part to the addition of GradReady to BTC's in-person entrance counseling. GradReady's learning modules helped her understand budgeting, loans, and the impact of borrowing on future payments. Entering actual income and expenses into GradReady's budget gave her specific amounts for various expense categories. Crawford says she now dodges "impulsive buyer's syndrome" by taking just her budgeted cash with her in an envelope so she won't overspend.

Crawford recently took out her first student loan when her car broke down and she couldn't use it for four months. "…I had to figure out how I was going to pay for that and pay for school at the same time. Was I going to have to take out a loan, and how could I avoid having to pay a lot of money when I was done with school?" Using GradReady's Electronic Loan Counselor, she took out a small student loan which is sitting unused in an account. If she and her 14-year-old daughter avoid other unforeseen expenses, Crawford plans to return the loan and pay no interest.

Secondary schools, colleges and universities, students, and their families are encouraged to take GradReady for a test drive and see how it can impact positive educational and financial outcomes.

News Releases

Great Lakes Funding Development of Online Support Community for College Freshman Women

Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from Summer Melt Texting Initiative

Great Lakes Awards $525,000 in Anniversary Grants in Nine Communities Where Employees Live and Work

Completion Grants Remove an Obstacle for At-Risk Students Nearing Graduation

New Initiative Connects Remediation Reforms and Guided Pathways to Boost Student Success

Great Lakes Awards $1,000 Scholarships to 200 Ohio Apprentices with Financial Need

Great Lakes Awards $7.2 Million to Launch Emergency Grant Programs at Four-Year Colleges

Great Lakes Sparking Change in Scholarship Delivery

Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes

Statement from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates Regarding Student Loan Collection Fee Policies

200 Wisconsin Apprentices with Financial Need Awarded $1,000 Scholarships from Great Lakes

Great Lakes Releases 2016 Philanthropy Report Highlighting $21.9 Million in Grants Awarded

Great Lakes Invites Four-Year Colleges to Apply for Successful Emergency Grant Program

USA Funds Transfers Ownership of Nation's Largest Guarantor to Great Lakes

Great Lakes Commits $2.1 Million to Help 16 Community Colleges Create Internship Programs for Low-Income Students

Great Lakes Commits $2.6 Million to Keep At-Risk Near-Completers on Track to Graduation

Blackhawk Technical College Students Borrow $700,000 Less, Regain Financial Aid Eligibility

Achieving the Dream to Enhance Coaching Services with $1 Million Great Lakes Grant

Great Lakes National Scholarship Awards Over $2 Million to Support College Access

Great Lakes Awards $1.5 Million to CCRC to Support Guided Pathways Reform in Ohio

Successful 'New Mathways Project' Expands into Arkansas to Increase Math Achievement

Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant Opportunity Now Open to
Two-Year Colleges


Study on Student-Faculty Interactions Finds Multi-Channel Communication is Key

Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from 2014-2015 Career Ready Internship Grant Partners

New Great Lakes Grant Opportunity Invites Applicants to Address Barriers Preventing Near-Completers from Earning Degrees

Student Loans of North Dakota to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes

Great Lakes Releases 2015 Philanthropy Report Detailing $28.5 Million in Commitments

200 Wisconsin Construction and Industrial Trade Apprentices Receive $1,000 Scholarships

Great Lakes Shares Best Practices from Three-Year Emergency Grant Program

Application Period for Great Lakes National Scholarship Begins February 15

Great Lakes Funds New Emergency Grants Shown to Boost Community and Technical College Completion

University of Pittsburgh Streamlines Private Student Loan Processing, Improves Student Service

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

Great Lakes' Commitment to Producing More Undergraduate STEM Degrees Now Reaches $10.7 Million

Great Lakes Launches Updated Education Philanthropy Website

Great Lakes Commits Record $12 Million to Fund 7,000 New Paid Internships for College Students with Financial Need

Great Lakes CEO Accepts White House Invitation to Join the College Promise Campaign Advisory Board

200 Wisconsin Apprentices Will Earn $1,000 Scholarships to Purchase Tools for Their Trades

400 MPS Grads Eligible for $5 Million in College Scholarships from The Degree Project®

Great Lakes Introduces Newly Expanded Program to Increase Community College Graduation

Great Lakes Shares Results of Applicant and Grantee Perception Survey

100 Schools Using Great Lakes' Free Outreach Tool to Help Students by Connecting Them with Their Servicer

Great Lakes Commits $28.6 Million During 2014 to Promote College Access and Completion

Great Lakes Expands Grants for Colleges Committed to Making Internships More Equitable

Great Lakes Commits $4.2 Million to Prepare More Students for College Math & English

Great Lakes' Free Tool Helps Schools Improve Repayment Success for All Their Student Loan Borrowers