Our parent organization, Clarifi (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley), noted a need for preventative student loan counseling in the community for our existing clients, in addition to other new individuals, who often raise issues of student loan repayment in financial counseling sessions.
The Philadelphia area consists of many prestigious colleges and universities that are beneficial for the region, but these schools can also be very expensive with tuition and room and board costing up to $50,000 or more per year. Local students are struggling with more severe debt load than the national average, which is estimated around $33,500. To address these issues, Clarifi introduced an innovative program called Education Financing Service (EFS) in the fourth quarter of 2011, which combines Clarifi’s expertise in helping families make smart choices with guidance on institutional choice and financial aid planning.
Kuder Navigator® is an integral part of our process here at EFS. After students register for our program on the Clarifi website, we use their information to create an individualized login account to an EFS-skinned version of Kuder® Navigator. We officially refer to this as the EFS Education & Career Planning System, or EFS Tool, for short. The main push at this early stage is for students to complete the three assessments in their “To-Do List” on their Kuder homepage. Once a student has completed the Kuder Career Search with Person Match®, Kuder Skills Assessment® and the Super’s Work Values Inventory-revised, we conduct a one-on-one counseling session to review their results. It is during this initial meeting with an EFS Advisor where we really get to demonstrate the power of Navigator to the student.
We at EFS are extremely excited to hear Kuder’s Big Announcement regarding the recent improvements to their system. Shorter assessments and an updated design will allow us to dive into the abilities of Navigator more quickly with students, minimize delays and avoid test-taking fatigue. Learning that students will now be able to finish all of their assessments in 20 minutes instead of a little over an hour is exhilarating!
Navigator is an excellent tool for helping students formulate their thoughts around what to study in order to gain marketable skills in a prospective area of interest.
In order to explore these ideas with students, we use their assessment results to guide them through the massive amounts of information stored within Navigator. Students are consistently impressed by how much they can do in Kuder: research schools, learn about programs of study, find out about scholarships and grants, explore occupations, create tasks and conditions, learn interview skills and create resumes and cover letters. A major portion of our counseling session is spent teaching students how to properly utilize “My Portfolio” in Navigator. We show students how to save their favorites and gather all the various pieces of information that they will use to consider postsecondary decisions.
After guiding the student through the features in Navigator, we request their family’s financial information to determine the estimated family contribution, estimated cost of attendance for their chosen schools and create a financial aid funding plan. We utilize the student’s assessment results from Navigator in their college funding plan and also demonstrate how they can use the tool to compare schools and their costs side-by-side. The goal of the financial packet that we provide clients is to present options and show what the true cost of education will be for each institution so that families may lessen their overall debt. We also provide suggested tax and income saving strategies that clients may review with their accountant or financial advisor.
We believe that giving clients affordable access to such a wonderful technological resource such as Navigator helps families comprehend and master all the necessary steps when deciding their postsecondary future. Navigator is incredibly useful to our clients. We make a point of letting our students and their families know that they will have access to their Kuder account for as long as they want and emphasize how their use of the system will evolve as they make progress on their journey throughout life after high school.
About the Author
Chris Bellis is an education financing services (EFS) program coordinator with Clarifi in Philadelphia.
- best practices
- financial aid
- financial literacy
- kuder assessments