Would Better Marketing Help Solve the Student Loan Crisis?

There are already options out there that could help, but many people don't know about them.

college students walkingStudent loan debt has ballooned to $1.2 trillion, a figure that many say is not only stopping borrowers from purchasing things like homes and cars, but is also hampering the economic growth that comes with those sorts of purchases.

Yesterday, in an effort to try and tackle the problem, President Obama signed an executive order that would cap student loan payments for five million people at 10 percent of their income. There is also already on the books a pay-as-you-go repayment option that is income-based and dependent on when the loan was taken.

“Income-based repayment should prevent many student loan defaults, because borrowers don’t have to make payments if they’re not making money. But the enrollment process right now is complicated and can be hard to navigate. Some policy experts think that income-based repayment should be the automatic way to pay back a student loan,” says Vox.

While there are larger issues wrapped up in all of this, Derek Thompson at The Atlantic notes that these pay-as-you-earn options are good ones. But there aren’t nearly as many people enrolling in them as there should be. Part of the problem: a lack of marketing.

The article highlights the different marketing challenges of the student loan repayment issue, from “getting students to actually realize that income-based payments are a thing” to “making students aware of the relative costs and benefits of certain schools and degrees” and “persuading enrolled students to not drop out of college unless they have a concrete plan to use internships or job opportunities to set themselves up for a career.”

“Although ‘better marketing’ sounds like an unsophisticated solution to problems on the scale of $1 trillion in student loans and higher education, I think there’s a good case to be made that the important crisis in higher education is ‘better marketing,'” the article continues.

Actually, it’s not unsophisticated at all. Perhaps “simple” is the better word.

Basically, the article is saying that there are options out there — not just to repay student loans, but to not get into student loan trouble in the first place. However, students (and perhaps their parents) don’t know about them. So solving at least part of the problem boils down to creating better ways of educating people. Programs, initiatives and campaigns that reach the right people with this information is a great angle for this mountain of a problem. And surely there are tons of PRs, marketers and communicators out there with ideas to make this happen.

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