2016 news archives

Use the holidays to plot your course on college debt

December 26, 2016

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The following article is from CBS News

The period between Christmas and New Year's Day is an ideal time for college planning. You can often see things in a clear light without the usual family pressures.

Well, OK, the holidays can be really stressful for families. But there are some ways to make the anxiety of the college process go more smoothly in terms of reducing—or eliminating—future college loans.

For more tips on budgeting and spending for the festive season, see our Holiday Financial Guide.

Exactly two years ago, my family was going through the ultimate stress test for college planning: Which colleges should we apply to? Which ones will offer the best financial aid package? How do we avoid debt?

We pretty much knew that most of the big state colleges would saddle us with debt. With state subsidies eroding in recent years for public universities, that's a given almost anywhere.

That means if you don't have the savings from a 529 plan or other sources, you'll have to finance about $100,000 for a four-year degree from a public school. That's based on paying roughly $20,000 a year in total fees, according to the most recent College Board survey. Since most students aren't graduating in four years, you're possibly looking at loans totaling six figures.

Private colleges, according to the College Board, will nick you for $180,000 over four years. That's another scary number, but here's one takeaway that will give you some comfort: These are "sticker" prices that you probably won't pay.

The following are some solid tips that many families ignore when making the college decision.

Look at private schools with higher price tags. This goes against the conventional wisdom, given the huge disparity between private and public school fees. But what counts is the net price—what you actually pay after all scholarships, grants, work-study programs and tuition discounts are applied.

Don't get discouraged by the sticker price. Instead, look at how much financial aid a college is likely to dole out. Private colleges often have large endowments and may have lower net prices. We received our most generous aid offers from private schools, even though going into the process we thought public colleges would be a better deal.

How do you find out which colleges are most generous with aid? Check out College Scorecard, the free government site. You can search by college and see how many graduates are receiving aid and taking out loans.

Do the FAFSA! Even if you don't think you'll qualify for financial aid, this free government form opens the door to the aid process. If you haven't filled it out, do it now while you're not busy. You can even download your tax returns from the IRS.

Do aid estimates. Every college website will give you a ballpark estimate on how much your family is likely to qualify for in terms of an aid package. While these tools aren't precise, you should go through the motions. It will help you streamline your college selection decision.

A good tool to help you on the aid question is College Abacus. It will give you a better idea of likely net prices from the colleges of your choice.

Diversify your choices. Don't just create a short list of state schools or solely focus on private colleges. Include in the mix community and commuter schools (always the best values), elite and out-of-state public colleges.

Because colleges are competing for top students, you never know where the best deal is going to come from. Neighboring state colleges in my area, for example, were offering in-state tuition for students from our local high school. One young man received a "free ride" from a top private college because he had four siblings. Apply to a mix of schools.

Know your best financing options. Did you know that the federal college loan program has nine different repayment plans? If your income drops, you can switch to an "income-based" plan. You can also consolidate loans to save money. If you have to borrow, go with federal loans first, which offer the most flexibility.

No matter which financing approach you take, know your total out of pocket costs over time. That means, if financing with loans, calculate your monthly payment and the total interest you're going to pay.

The best part of this family-oriented discussion is that you have plenty of options. There's no harm in saving a boatload of money by going to a community or commuter college the first two years. That knocks some $20,000 off your total bill.

Putting in the time to research the best net price is well worth it. And cast a wide net. My daughter applied for and received some $5,000 in local scholarships. That was in addition to a generous scholarship she received at a great private college.

Sure, we spent more time doing research than visiting college campuses, an experience that's often more like tourist events—everything looks perfect.

But the investment in time you make now will lighten the financial burden on your family. It's much less stressful to avoid debt now rather than take it on later.

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Why college students should move quickly on financial aid requests

December 22, 2016

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The following article is from Consumer Affairs

Many students heading for college will be rushing to get their applications in next month ahead of deadlines, but they should also be thinking about financial aid at the same time.

This is the first year that aid requests are being considered three months earlier than in the past, and since aid is dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis, if you wait too long you could get left out.

To avoid missing out, Paula Craw—director of outreach and financial literacy for ECMC—is advising families to take advantage of the holiday lull to file their aid forms – known in education jargon as the FAFSA Form – without delay.

Craw says there are five things families should know to improve their chances of getting financial aid.

Procrastination is costly
Colleges and universities tend to hand out aid to the first students who apply for it. They don't hold it back since they don't know how many applications they will receive. With the earlier start to the application season, the funds will likely go sooner than in years past.

Craw cites one survey of colleges showing they've already received 32% of the FAFSA forms filed during all of last year.

Don't make assumptions
Families often make a big mistake by assuming they are too well off to qualify for financial aid. That's not always how it works, and many middle and even upper-middle income families get college aid each year.

There are a number of different factors that determine eligibility, including assets and number of household members currently attending college. You might not qualify for federal aid, but a lot of colleges rely on the FAFSA Form when they hand out their own scholarships.

You don't have to be class valedictorian
If you're applying to college you should have good grades, but they don't have to be outstanding. Most of the federal and state college aid packages focus more on need than merit.

Merit is certainly a powerful factor when it's on your side, but remember that in most cases you only need to maintain a "satisfactory" GPA to continue receiving aid dollars.

Don't be scared by the sticker price
Make no mistake, college is expensive, but don't let a college's posted tuition rate scare you off. Just like a car dealer, colleges will make a deal, putting together financial aid packages that can, in some cases, drastically lower the actual tuition cost.

Don't pass up the college of your choice until you can figure out what it will really cost.

It's an annual process
If you're a returning college student, don't assume last year's FAFSA Form will cover you this year. It doesn't automatically renew – you have to fill it out each year.

But to simplify the process, if you submitted the form last year you have the option of filling out a Renewal FAFSA, in which most of the questions are answered with last year's information.

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Two Minneapolis nonprofits team up for "Second Harvest Heartland"

December 7, 2016

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Two Minneapolis organizations joined forces to volunteer at "Second Harvest Heartland" on Wednesday.

The non-profits "E-C-M-C" and "Mad Dads" sorted and repacked food for those in need.

The food will be distributed to Second Harvest Heartland's nearly one thousand partner agencies, including food shelves and feeding programs.

The story and video are from KSTP-TV

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ECMC assumes responsibility for loans guaranteed by South Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (SCSEAA)

December 1, 2016

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Effective today, Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) becomes the designated guaranty agency for the South Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (SCSEAA) Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) portfolio. Since the appointment of ECMC as the designated agency was made, ECMC has been working closely with SCSEAA to ensure a smooth transition of services for students with outstanding loans made under FFELP.

"ECMC remains committed to providing high-quality customer service that SCSEAA customers have come to expect," said Jan Hines, ECMC chief executive officer.

ECMC is a national guaranty agency and the designated guarantor for the commonwealth of Virginia, and the states of Oregon, Connecticut, California and Tennessee. ECMC also provides bankruptcy servicing for 23 guaranty agencies and the U.S. Department of Education.

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Starting from scratch: A look at ECMC's impressive new employee volunteer program

November 22, 2016

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The following article is from VolunteerMatch

Two years ago, ECMC Group didn't have an employee-sponsored volunteer program. Now, they not only have a robust volunteer program, but offer extensive giving opportunities as well. Check out this spread of the volunteer and giving-related programming ECMC has in place:

  • Up to 16 hours of paid time off to volunteer (VTO) at ECMC-sponsored events each year
  • A charitable gift matching program
  • A dollars for doers program
  • Company-organized days of service
  • The ECMC Foundation GO! Program through which employees can nominate and vote for nonprofits to receive grant funding totaling $1 million per year for programs related to education.

To top it all off, ECMC has seen higher-than-average employee participation rates since the launch of their program.

What causes an organization to go from having no volunteer/giving program to creating an engaging and thorough one in such a short amount of time?

To find out, I connected with Sabrina Berg, ECMC's Community Relations Administrator.

As it turns out, ECMC's giving program started in the most beautifully simple way: Employees asked for it.

"ECMC employees asked for a community outreach program and ECMC listened!", recalls Sabrina.

Since then, the program has really taken off. "ECMC offers a robust volunteer program, allowing employees the opportunity to make an impact in their community through a variety of ways and supporting a variety of causes," explains Sabrina.

How were they able to scale their program so quickly?

One tool they employ is YourMatch™ by VolunteerMatch. "VolunteerMatch provides an easy and engaging way for our employees to research, sign up for, and track their volunteer efforts," says Sabrina. "It also provides robust reporting metrics which, as an administrator, makes my job a lot easier to track results!"

One aspect of a volunteer program that does take time investment is building relationships with nonprofit partners. But ECMC is already on their way there.

"With time, ECMC is starting to develop relationships with nonprofits and is starting to see the long-term benefits of those partnerships," says Sabrina.

An example is investments in two local middle schools. ECMC employees volunteered at the schools by chaperoning field trips, mentoring, helping with school projects, and more. ECMC also supported the schools through monetary donations.

"These partnerships have benefited both the staff, the students, their families, and ECMC employees," says Sabrina. "ECMC employees are having fun working together to better the communities they live in."

In addition to these long-term partnerships, ECMC organizes service days for their employees.

Most recently, ECMC employees cleaned up Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "Around 40 employees spent the morning collecting flags for proper disposal, gathering faded flowers and mementos, and picking up debris as a way to commemorate veterans and the 15th anniversary of 9/11," recalls Sabrina. "The story made the local news!"

Thanks, Sabrina and ECMC Group for letting us share your story! Interested in having a success story of your own? Find out how VolunteerMatch can help scale your own employee volunteer program.

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Five things you should know about this year's college aid process

November 17, 2016

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The following article is from Consumer Affairs

It's not just the holiday season that's coming up quickly. It's also college application season, so prospective students need to be aware of the deadlines at the colleges they are considering.

For those who wanted to get an early start on the college aid process, the FAFSA form was available in October for the first time, three months earlier than in the past.

The FAFSA form is an indispensable tool for figuring out what an individual's real cost is going to be at a particular college or university.

Paula Craw, director of outreach and financial literacy for ECMC, says there are five things students and parents need to know and understand about the aid process.

It's best to start early
The early bird not only gets the worm, it may also get a better aid deal. Financial aid is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Because the FAFSA process began earlier this year, the money may be depleted sooner. The sooner you can file your form, the better.

The fine print is important: read it
College registrars and admissions officers have gone on record saying the FAFSA changes could spur them to be more competitive with financial aid packages. There are good reasons for them to do this, but one consequence may be that colleges are more likely to "frontload" scholarships. There may be a lot more aid in the freshman year than the sophomore year. That needs to be taken into account. Also, make sure you understand the exact terms of the offer.

Double check deadlines
The U.S. Department of Education has asked that colleges not change their financial aid deadlines to reflect the FAFSA changes, but some schools may still feel pressured to do so. Make sure you know all the deadlines and plan accordingly.

Make good use of your time
The earlier start to the FAFSA process will give students more time to survey their options. One way to make use of this time is by exploring Pell Grants and other aid that you may be eligible for. Also, cost comparison tools like College Abacus and Pell Abacus can help you identify the colleges offering the best value for your unique financial situation.

Plan your budget
Figure out your total costs for a particular school before you apply. Remember that there are fees to submit an application to a school. If you can prioritize potential choices based on the available aid, you can eliminate application fees to schools that are not a good financial fit.

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Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond's Starfish Foundation, ECMC Group and St. Catherine University to host inspiring college preparatory event for local high school and college-age young women

October 27, 2016

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More than 200 girls expected at daylong October 29 PowHERful™ Summit

Helping low-income women get to and through college is a passion for Soledad O'Brien and her Starfish Foundation. The nationally known television journalist is hosting a daylong event with local organizations to inspire more than 200 area girls to reach their academic and professional goals.

The daylong event—PowHERful™—to be held October 29, from 8 a.m.–5 p.m., in St. Paul, features several local experts discussing everything from finances and financial aid, to health and wellness, to presenting yourself in a professional manner.

"Through our partnership with the Starfish Foundation, we have the ability to provide assistance to the next generation of female leaders," said Jan Hines, president and CEO of ECMC. "Over the years, we have provided internships, financial aid training, and financial support, and now we are thrilled to participate in this inspirational event."

The St. Paul summit is sponsored by Minneapolis-based ECMC, which provides financial literacy services to empower students to make informed choices about their futures—and hosted at St. Catherine University.

Twin Cities' Speakers Include:

  • Brittany Lynch, an artist, activist, DJ and entrepreneur
  • Jennifer Tavernier, a personal trainer and American Ninja Warrior athlete
  • Jan Hines, President and CEO of ECMC
  • ReBecca Roloff, President of St. Catherine University
  • Lisa Grimm, Director of Social Media for Whole Foods
  • Karen Jung, President of Nextech
  • Minda Suchan Ph.D., Director, ISR/Integrated Processing Systems & Analytics Space & Intelligence Systems for Harris Corporation
  • Judge Anne McKeig, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • St. Catherine faculty from the sciences, apparel design and health professions

About Starfish Foundation
The Starfish Foundation was founded by Emmy Award-winning Soledad O'Brien, and Brad Raymond as a 501(c)3 in 2011. The mission of the Starfish Foundation is to get young women to, and through, college. The organization provides financial assistance, mentorship, and wraparound support to help their scholars achieve their highest potentials. Currently, Starfish serves 25 scholars in their educational pursuits, and reaches a broader audience through its national PowHERful™ Summit, a free daylong conference for high school- and college-aged young women. Starfishscholars.org

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ECMC offers tips and free college planning resources to help students prepare for college

October 20, 2016

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Earlier FAFSA timeline has families applying now

Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) offers a variety of free resources to help parents and students navigate the potentially daunting process of planning and paying for college. For more than 20 years, ECMC has worked to lower student loan default rates, promote financial literacy and provide resources to help borrowers successfully repay their student loans.

"College is one of the largest expenditures people make during their lifetime," said Paula Craw, director of outreach and financial literacy for ECMC. "Given the cost as well as the commitment, students and parents need to understand all of their options so that they can make choices that fit their academic as well as their financial needs."

Changes to the timeline for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines whether a student is eligible for federal financial aid, enable students to file now versus waiting until January 1.

ECMC is offering the following tips and free resources to help families as they begin the process:

  1. Develop a Plan
    • Look for free tools that can help you determine how to reach your academic goals. We offer an Opportunities book that can be downloaded and features everything from a worksheet about how to choose a college, to an easy-to-follow breakdown of the financial aid process.
  2. Compare Costs
  3. Talk to the Professionals
    • School counselors are a great place to gather information. Many schools also offer college planning seminars. ECMC offers seminars in California, Virginia, Connecticut and Oregon. And we staff several college access centers around the country that help students of all ages get help planning for college.
  4. Start Early
    • Now that the FAFSA filing has been moved up a few months, it makes sense to get started as soon as possible so that you are not scrambling at the last minute.
    • Start researching scholarships in your junior year of high school. That way you won't feel as overwhelmed when college applications are due at the same time.
  5. Know Your Resources

These tips are also discussed in the video below.

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ECMC Group response to The Century Foundation article

September 29, 2016

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In response to a report by The Century Foundation, ECMC Group released the following statement:

While ECMC Group fully cooperated with the authors of the latest The Century Foundation report and provided them with extensive information, they portrayed what we believe is an unbalanced and erroneous view of our organization.

Falsehoods about IRS Form 1023

Most troubling is their blatant falsehood about our Form 1023 filing in relation to Zenith Education Group’s request for tax-exempt status. The authors of The Century Foundation report improvidently chose to ignore our extensive efforts on behalf of low- and moderate-income students and chose instead to make false claims about our filing. The authors also intentionally excluded, both in the text of their report and in the footnotes, the explanation ECMC Group provided to them including detailed information about our Form 1023 filing. ECMC Group and Zenith Education Group worked closely with expert outside counsel Arnold and Porter LLP to ensure the accuracy of our filing and that it was completed in accordance with IRS procedures and instructions.

Failure to Address ECMC Group Charitable Activities

The Century Foundation report authors ignored the extensive charitable activities undertaken by ECMC Group—information that was previously supplied to the authors and should have been dispositive of their flawed conclusion that ECMC has lost focus on its charitable mission. Since its inception in 1994, ECMC has worked tirelessly to fulfill our mission of “helping students succeed.” As a network of affiliated organizations that include nonprofit student loan guaranty agency ECMC, nonprofit education provider Zenith Education Group and nonprofit ECMC Foundation, we provide financial aid, tools and services, nonprofit career education, and job placement services to help students achieve their academic and professional goals.

From day one, we have been strongly committed to effectively and efficiently serving our constituencies, including students, parents, communities and taxpayers:

  • We created Zenith Education Group—a nonprofit career educational institution. We have invested approximately $300 million in Zenith to cut tuition 20 percent at our Everest campuses, to provide $36 million in scholarships, and to facilitate the discharge of approximately $480 million in private student loans owed by former students of Corinthian.
  • Across Zenith schools, we’ve implemented a new financial aid process with pre-enrollment financial literacy counseling, reducing the percentage of students taking out maximum available student loans by one-third according to initial data.
  • We created our philanthropic arm, ECMC Foundation, and provided it with more than $600 million in funding, including $250 million to help support Zenith grants and initiatives geared toward promoting student success.
  • We contributed $345 million to the state of California’s Cal Grant program to help low-income students pursue their higher-education goals.
  • We provided approximately $16.7 million in scholarships to 2,800 low-income students who became ECMC Scholars.
  • We have provided more than $30 million to support ECMC college access centers and financial literacy outreach activities.
  • Since 2011, ECMC’s Default Prevention Services have assisted 2.8 million borrowers in resolving their delinquent loans, preventing $42.6 billion in defaults.

Specifically, ECMC provides financial literacy services to empower students to make informed choices about their futures and oversees student loan repayments to ensure taxpayer funds are replenished so future generations of students have access to federal education funding. ECMC has returned in excess of $12 billion to date to the U.S. Treasury—and to U.S. taxpayers—in connection with services performed under our charter.

Our financial literacy services include:

  • Believing the College Dream, Realizing the College Dream and PERSIST college access and college retention curricula for low-income, first-generation students
  • College Abacus, College Ábaco, Pell Abacus and Pell Ábaco free online English- and Spanish-language tools to help families and students make informed decisions regarding the real cost of college  
  • The College Place drop-in college access centers in California, Connecticut, Oregon and Virginia
  • ECMC Scholars high school mentoring and college scholarship program serving 250 students annually in 25 high schools across three states
  • Opportunities booklets providing comprehensive college admission and financial aid information
  • Financial Awareness Basics money management tips and tools
  • College Nights college planning events
  • Grace counseling, delinquency counseling and forbearance counseling to help student loan holders repay their debt
  • Default rate management and LoanTracker software to help higher education institutions improve their default rates and facilitate student loan repayments.

ECMC Foundation funds innovative programs to advance college and career readiness among low-income and first-generation students, and teacher development initiatives to promote a more effective and diverse educational profession. ECMC Foundation also funds Zenith Education Group grants for innovations on the Everest and WyoTech campuses.

Our Zenith Education Group affiliate helps students in its Everest and WyoTech schools plan for college, attend, graduate and land a good job. Zenith offers affordable, high-quality programs that are regularly updated to teach the skills employers are looking for today, so students gain the real-life career skills they need to graduate well-trained and ready to work on day one in a fulfilling career.

Omissions Related to Operating Funds

Also absent from The Century Foundation report is any reference to the 1998 Higher Education Act (HEA) amendments that allowed the creation of an Operating Fund for guarantors. The Operating Fund enables greater flexibility for guarantors to address the specific needs of the student populations in the states served by each guarantor. For example, students in California, given the state’s demographics, have very different needs from students in Vermont. In addition, guaranty agencies themselves are different: Some state agencies have statutory state-specific responsibilities (such as grantmaking) while ECMC is a national multi-state guarantor. The HEA amendments enable guarantors to determine the programs that best suit the unique needs of their constituencies.

Inaccuracies Concerning Director Compensation 

The Century Foundation report additionally makes erroneous statements about director compensation, failing to take into account that the amount of time and effort devoted to their duties has a meaningful relation to compensation received. Included in the information provided by ECMC Group to the authors was the fact that the documented time commitment to ECMC Group and its affiliates by its directors is at or near the very top of the peer group of for-profit and not-for-profit entities.

ECMC Group and its affiliated entities have grown from $48.5 million in revenues in 2005 to $783 million in revenues in 2015. As the organization has grown, the level of experience, expertise and engagement needed from our board of directors also has increased and continues to grow as we work to fulfill our mission. ECMC Group board compensation has been reviewed annually for compliance with federal and state laws by an expert independent firm as well as by expert outside legal counsel to evaluate payments for reasonableness under prevailing law and regulations, taking into account the organizational complexity, prevailing rates of compensation for comparable positions in comparable organizations as well as time and effort expended by directors. The report also failed to note that compensation paid to ECMC directors is not funded by either the ECMC Foundation or Zenith Education Group, rather director compensation is funded solely from ECMC’s Operating Fund and its for-profit subsidiary.

The Century Foundation’s publication of false and misleading information is highly regrettable and does a disservice to enhancing the public’s understanding of the critical contributions ECMC has made since its inception. Further, we stand behind the transparency, accuracy and compliance of our IRS filing. We are as committed now as ever to fulfilling our mission of helping students succeed.

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ECMC college access curriculum supports $2.1 million federal grant to Nebraska tribal schools

September 16, 2016

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Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) trained more than 50 staffers, school personnel, and other community partners in the Native Students' College Vision Quest (NSCVQ) project in August 2016 to promote college access and career readiness for Native American middle school students in Nebraska tribal schools.

The NSCVQ initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) $2.1 million, four-year grant to the HoChunk Community Development Corporation (HCCDC) under the Indian Education Demonstration Grants Program to assist disadvantaged Native American youth in grades 4-8 on their reservation in northeastern Nebraska. ECMC provided curriculum and training at no cost to the project. A key component of the initiative is implementing ECMC's Believing the College Dream curriculum and program materials that provide early college access information to low-income, underserved elementary school students.

ECMC provides three free programs aimed at increasing college access and success. The curricula are geared to education professionals working at the middle school to college level and include:

  • Believing the College Dream (grades 4-8)
  • Realizing the College Dream (grades 9-12)
  • PERSIST (college students)

To download a curriculum, schedule a training or for more information, visit www.ecmc.org/students/educator-resources.html.

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Volunteers clean Fort Snelling National Cemetery ahead of 9/11 anniversary

September 7, 2016

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A sea of green took over Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Wednesday.

About 40 volunteers from a nonprofit called ECMC Group spent several hours cleaning the grounds, which included collecting flags for proper disposal, gathering faded flowers and picking up debris.

They chose to clean up after a busy Labor Day weekend and ahead of the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

The group decided to volunteer because one of the employees is a veteran, and she wanted to do something to commemorate all of the other veterans and the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.

ECMC Group is a Twin Cities-based nonprofit that offers programs to help students with financial literacy, college access and college completion.

The story and video are from KSTP-TV

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ECMC Group president and CEO Dave Hawn to assume new role as CEO of Urban Ventures effective Sept. 1

August 10, 2016

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ECMC Group announced today that Dave Hawn, president and CEO, will leave the organization to assume a new role as CEO of Urban Ventures, effective Sept. 1. Urban Ventures is a faith-based nonprofit organization that aims to build a city without urban poverty in South Minneapolis. Hawn has served as president and CEO of ECMC Group since Feb. 1, 2014, and will continue to serve the organization in an advisory capacity through at least the end of 2016.

"On behalf of the entire ECMC Group Board of Directors, I extend our gratitude to Dave for his service, leadership and friendship over the years," said John DePodesta, ECMC Group chairman. "Dave's strategic vision for ECMC Group and our affiliated entities, combined with his genuine concern for employees and for the constituencies we serve through our many initiatives, have enhanced the culture of ECMC Group and made it a better organization. Consistent with his sense of stewardship, Dave's departure occurs after the recent announcements that the major operating units of ECMC Group will be led by Jan Hines and Peter Taylor, supported by a strong leadership team."

"My eight years at ECMC Group truly have been among the best of my life," said Hawn. "The CEO role at Urban Ventures offers me an opportunity to answer my calling and to do my life's work making a difference in a mission about which I am passionate. I am honored to have worked with ECMC Group's outstanding board of directors, leadership team and employees, and I know I am leaving the organization in great hands."

As previously announced, the board of directors of ECMC Group affiliate Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) appointed Jan Hines president and chief executive officer of ECMC effective Aug. 1 to oversee the management and coordination of all Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and guaranty agency program activities for ECMC. Also, the board of directors of Zenith Education Group, an affiliate of ECMC Group, announced the appointment of Peter J. Taylor as president and chief executive officer of Zenith effective Aug. 1, while ECMC Group announced a $250 million contribution to its foundation to help support Zenith initiatives.

"The board is confident that Jan's and Peter's unique experience and proven leadership abilities position our organization for sustained success," said DePodesta.

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Paint-a-Thon event helps Roseville woman on 79th birthday

August 2, 2016

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Volunteers from a local company worked together Saturday to celebrate a Roseville woman’s birthday in a special way.

Educational Credit Management Corporation employees and other community members participated in Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches’ Paint-a-Thon event at the home of Kristin Anderson, who turned 79.

The 30 volunteers prepped and painted the home while also completing minor touch-ups.

The event celebrated Anderson’s 79th birthday. She says the event and those helping made her feel "incredibly cared for."

Paint-a-Thon events help low-income seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their homes. Each summer, volunteers paint the outside of homes in Hennepin and Ramsey counties for those who can’t paint them themselves and can’t afford to hire help.

The story and video are from KSTP-TV

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ECMC Board of Directors appoints Jan Hines president and CEO of Educational Credit Management Corporation

August 1, 2016

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Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) announced that its board of directors has appointed Jan Hines president and chief executive officer of ECMC effective Aug. 1. Hines will oversee the management and coordination of all Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and guaranty agency program activities for ECMC. She also will spearhead efforts to expand social impact programs in the communities where ECMC has operations centers.

"Jan has built an impressive record of success across all phases of her career and especially at ECMC," said Dave Hawn, president and CEO of ECMC Group. "Her operational expertise and tactical experience, as well as her dedication to students and borrowers, has and will continue to prove invaluable for our organization as we remain committed to serving our constituencies as a leader in educational services."

ECMC, an affiliate of ECMC Group, is a nonprofit company that serves as a student loan guaranty agency for the administration of FFELP, and also sponsors programs to help students and families plan and pay for college.

"I am thrilled to serve in this role where I will continue to enhance ECMC's offerings to students and borrowers while supporting our mission to help students succeed," Hines said.

Hines joined ECMC in 1994 when it was established and since then has led the conversion of portfolios from agencies in Virginia, Oregon, Connecticut, California, and Tennessee resulting in a timely transition of resources and uninterrupted services for borrowers, schools, lenders and servicers. She has worked in the student loan industry since 1988.

Hines currently serves on the board of directors of the National Council of Higher Education Resources.

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Inside Higher Ed article by Paul Fain

July 28, 2016

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Zenith Education Group Board of Directors appoints Peter J. Taylor president and CEO of Zenith; ECMC Group announces $250 million contribution to ECMC Foundation to help support Zenith initiatives to promote student success

July 28, 2016

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Zenith Education Group, a nonprofit affiliate of ECMC Group, today announced that its board of directors has appointed Peter J. Taylor as president and chief executive officer of Zenith Education Group (Zenith) effective Aug. 1. The ECMC Group Board of Directors also announced a $250 million contribution to ECMC Foundation to support Zenith grants and initiatives geared toward promoting student success. Zenith Education Group and ECMC Foundation are affiliates of ECMC Group.

"There is no one better to lead Zenith Education Group than Peter Taylor," said Dave Hawn, president and CEO of ECMC Group. "Peter's leadership of ECMC Foundation, his experience at the University of California system, his long history of supporting student success and his vision for the future of nonprofit career education are exactly what Zenith needs as we create a new model for nonprofit career school training."

"The board's contribution of $250 million to ECMC Foundation to help support Zenith initiatives is further evidence of ECMC Group's commitment to set the nonprofit career education standard for the future," Hawn stated.

Taylor joined ECMC Foundation in 2014 as president and will remain in this role as he assumes his new responsibilities. In this position, he led more than $26 million of investments in initiatives that affect educational outcomes, especially among underserved populations, in the focus areas of teacher and leader development, college success, and career readiness. Taylor also led the ongoing partnership between ECMC Foundation and Zenith that has thus far resulted in more than $6 million of ECMC Foundation grants to support Zenith initiatives since 2015.

Before joining ECMC Foundation, Taylor served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California (UC) system, where he oversaw all aspects of financial management at the system's 10 campuses, five academic medical centers and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, Taylor held senior positions in investment banking, including at Barclays Capital, where he served as managing director of infrastructure finance. Taylor also served on the staff of the State Assembly Majority Leader in Sacramento.

"I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to lead Zenith Education Group, which is engaged in the important task of helping students succeed by giving them the skills they need to achieve their educational and career goals," said Taylor. "I look forward to working with Zenith faculty, staff, students, employer partners, and others to advance student success and to help bridge our country's growing skills gap by creating a new nonprofit model for the career college space. High-quality, affordable programs offered in an environment designed to care for the whole student and that position graduates ready to work on day one in fulfilling careers are both essential and within our reach."

Taylor will lead an organization of more than 2,600 faculty and staff at 24 Everest and WyoTech campuses, including many programs that are available online. As one of the largest nonprofit career college systems in America, Zenith is working to promote the long-term success of it'Ss graduates.

"Peter has a long history of putting students first and focusing on educational outcomes," said John F. DePodesta, ECMC Group chairman of the board. "Peter's ability to connect vision, people, and ideas to execute on mission makes him the ideal person to ensure students who attend and graduate from Zenith educational programs are well positioned to attain their academic and career goals."

"With the $250 million contribution to ECMC Foundation, the board of ECMC Group is providing resources to drive success and innovation in the nonprofit career education field," DePodesta added.

Taylor holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master's degree from Claremont Graduate University. Active in the community, Taylor sits on the board of the Kaiser Family Foundation, where he chairs the Investment Committee, and on the board of the California State University system since being appointed by Governor Jerry Brown last year, where he chairs the Finance Committee.

Taylor previously chaired the James Irvine Foundation board of directors for three years and the UCLA Foundation for two years. He was also chair of the UCLA African American Admissions and Retention Task Force from 2006–2008. From 2000–2002 he was a member of the California Student Aid Commission and from 1998–2000 Taylor served as an alumni representative to the UC Board of Regents.

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How to find a college you can truly afford

July 2016

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ECMC assumes responsibility for loans guaranteed by Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC)

July 1, 2016

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Effective today, Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) becomes the designated guaranty agency for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) portfolio. Since the announcement of ECMC as the designated agency was made, ECMC has been working closely with TSAC to ensure a smooth transition of services for current and former students with outstanding loans made under FFELP.

ECMC will work closely with TSAC in supporting default management and student success programs, and will offer additional ECMC publications and support services to students attending schools in Tennessee.

"We look forward to working with TSAC and providing our programs, products, and services to Tennessee students, schools and lenders," said Janice Hines, ECMC Group chief relationship officer.

ECMC is a national guaranty agency and the designated guarantor for the commonwealth of Virginia, and the states of Oregon, Connecticut and California. ECMC also provides bankruptcy servicing for 22 guaranty agencies and the U.S. Department of Education.

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U.S. Department of Education Announcement

March 30, 2016

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ECMC increases it funding to more than $16.7 million in higher education scholarships

March 25, 2016

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Students in need receive support based on their potential

Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) announced funding for another year of the ECMC Scholars Program. Students in this program are eligible to receive up to $6,000 in postsecondary grants.

Since the program was launched, nearly 2,800 students have benefitted from the mentoring and/or scholarships provided through the ECMC Scholars Program.

"The ECMC Scholars Program allows our students to pursue their goals and dreams, but your investment in our students reaches many more people than just the ten scholarship winners each year," said Karen Wiant, college and career center coordinator at Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore. "There is a ripple effect, about which you may not be aware. As each one of our potential ECMC Scholars goes through their training and steps to apply to college and scholarships, their friends are also inspired to try a little harder—to reach a little farther―than they would have before."

The ECMC Scholars Program was created to encourage underserved students to pursue postsecondary education. The departments of education in Virginia, Oregon and Connecticut (the states in which the program is active) each selected several public high schools to participate in the program according to need-based criteria. Then, counselors and teachers from each school identified students with the potential to succeed in college, but who may need extra motivation to work up to their potential. The majority of ECMC Scholars are the first in their families to attend college.

For more information about the ECMC Scholars Program, visit www.ecmc.org/students/scholars-program.html.

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ED transitions TSAC student loan guaranty portfolio to ECMC

March 1, 2016

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Zenith Education Group applauds White House decision to double the number of TechHire cities, grow pipeline of U.S. tech workers

March 9, 2016

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In announcement today, White House highlights Zenith as a leader in expanding access to technology skills training for under-served populations

Dave Hawn, president and CEO of ECMC Group and interim president and CEO of Zenith Education Group, one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of career education, today released the following statement on the White House's announcement that it is doubling the number of U.S. cities participating in its multi-sector TechHire initiative, a national program designed to further develop the tech skills of the U.S. workforce and fuel innovation in the American economy. In a fact sheet released today, the White House highlighted Zenith as a leader in helping to advance those goals, through its plans to launch a coding bootcamp at its nonprofit Everest Institute campus in Austin, Texas—a newly announced TechHire community and the site of President Obama's announcement today.

"We applaud the White House's decision to double the number of cities participating in the TechHire program and are incredibly honored to be partnering in this important effort to diversify and expand the pipeline of skilled U.S. tech workers," said Hawn. "Career education has a vital role to play in ensuring more Americans can thrive in today's 21st Century economy, and Zenith's work to elevate coding at the Austin Everest campus marks an important step forward in our ongoing commitment to helping students access the skills they need to enter into rewarding careers in growing fields like software development."

Launched one year ago today, the TechHire initiative emphasizes the importance of leveraging career colleges and coding bootcamps as partners in training workers for tech-sector jobs. As part of those efforts, Zenith will be partnering with the programming bootcamp FlatIron School to launch a new coding program at its Everest campus in Austin, Texas, Austin being one of 15 new TechHire communities announced today. The FlatIron School was first announced as a TechHire partner in March of last year. Thanks to a grant of nearly $500,000 from ECMC Foundation and the support of the ECMC Innovation Lab, Zenith expects the coding program to graduate more than 200 students in the next three years.

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Zenith Education Group to roll out new financial aid process across nonprofit Everest and WyoTech schools

March 8, 2016

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Delivering on commitments to put students first, improve affordability and promote transparency, process includes interactive pre-enrollment financial literacy counseling and 'breather period' for prospective students

Zenith Education Group (Zenith) announced today that its newly developed financial aid process, focused on empowering students to make fully informed choices about their futures through pre-enrollment financial literacy counseling, will be rolled out across all of its nonprofit Everest and WyoTech ground campuses this month. The process, which was successfully piloted across seven campuses last fall is one of several initiatives underway to improve affordability and create a new model for marketing and admissions that equips prospective students with personalized resources to help them make informed decisions about where to attend school.

"Our approach to financial aid is emblematic of the cultural shift Zenith has been making to prioritize student success over enrollment numbers since acquiring these campuses," said Dave Hawn, president and CEO of ECMC Group and interim president and CEO of Zenith Education Group. "Understanding that our students succeed when we engage them as partners in their own future, we're proud to have created a process designed with input from our students and supported by our ongoing commitment to transparency. We've already begun to see the benefit of our efforts to improve affordability and financial counseling support reflected in the declining debt burden of our students and are optimistic that our new financial aid process will result in further improved outcomes for our students."

Initial data indicate that students who went through the piloted financial aid process were one-third less likely to take out their maximum available loans, as compared to students at campuses where the new process had not yet been implemented.

The process—initiated, designed and developed by the ECMC Innovation Lab, a Washington, D.C.-based incubator for new products and initiatives at ECMC Group and its subsidiaries – involves a three-step, interactive approach. After an initial one-on-one meeting with a financial aid planner, prospective students are offered a one-to-two day "breather period," during which they are offered several follow-up assignments—including completing the FAFSA, creating a budget and researching future income expectations. By providing prospective students with time to consider the financial impact of taking out loans, this breather period enables them to determine whether the school is the right fit, right now, and encourages them to make more careful and deliberate decisions about financing their education and student loans in particular. A second student-planner meeting is held only if the prospective student decides he or she remains interested in and financially prepared to move forward.

The financial aid process is guided by a newly created "personal financial workbook," a response to students' expressed need for personalized information. The workbook is comprised of two sections, one pertaining to financing options and one to financial health, which correspond with the first and second student-planner meetings respectively. Workbook contents include a financial glossary, resources and FAQs, information on repayment and the consequences of default and itemized budgeting forms to be filled out by each prospective student—including a "Breaking Down the Cost of School" worksheet. Everest University Online will be piloting the new process with an electronic version of the workbook in the next two weeks.

In determining the most effective approach to the new process, ECMC Innovation Lab's team employed a user-centered design process during which they conducted extensive research through interviews, focus groups and user testing with students and financial aid staff. Seeking innovative ideas from external as well as internal sources, the Lab also held in-depth conversations with industry experts and attended outside financial aid workshops.

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University Business names LoanTracker a "Readers' Choice Top Product"

January 19, 2016

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University Business magazine named LoanTracker, a proprietary web-based platform from Solutions at ECMC, a "Readers' Choice Top Product" for 2016. This is the second consecutive year LoanTracker has been named a Top Product.

LoanTracker offers powerful cohort management and program analysis options that support and strengthen campus-wide efforts. Featuring sophisticated analytics, real-time reporting and powerful communication management, LoanTracker's innovative platform can be used in-house or in collaboration with Solutions' one-on-one counseling services. Our clients report significant and immediate impact in their ability to:

  • Maximize resources
  • Transform strategies
  • Positively impact student outcomes

"We appreciate our relationship with the ECMC team and their dedication to our borrowers and our cohort default rate," said Shannon Sheaff, director of financial aid at Mohave Community College. "For the first time in years, we feel our cohort default rate is headed in the right direction and our borrowers are being served by a conscientious team of professionals."

Solutions at ECMC is dedicated to providing services that make a difference and is honored that its clients nominated their default prevention services for this recognition. The University Business Readers' Choice Top Products award program informs higher education professionals about products their colleagues around the country are using to help their campuses excel in a variety of areas, such as technology, sustainability and academic instruction.

For more information about our default prevention services and LoanTracker, or to read customer testimonials, visit http://www.ecmc.org/Solutions.

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