FINANCIAL IMAGEFor the 2014-15 academic year, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW)awarded $96.1 million in financial assistance to students including grants, loans, work programs, and other forms of aid. At UIW, 95 percent of students receive some form of financial assistance.

UIW’s student loan default rate is currently 7.5 percent, well below the overall national rate of 11.7 percent. In fact, the university’s default rate has dropped 2 percent every year since 2009’s 13.1 percent. As recorded by the U.S. Department of Education, the current rate reflects students who left UIW in 2012, including those who have graduated, transferred, or withdrew, and have defaulted on their loans before Oct. 1, 2015.

UIW’s low default rate is a result of several, proactive resources the Office of Financial Assistance provides students to help support their financial wellbeing.

“Number one, we are targeting very specific areas of students who we consider at high risk,” said Cristen Alicea, assistant director of financial assistance. “Number two, we’ve hired a company called American Student Assistance (ASA) who provides default management, meaning they have an outreach program for our students to help contact them before they miss payments and offer free counseling if they miss payments.”

Before withdrawing, main campus students are required to meet with representatives from the offices of both Financial Assistance and Student Success for one-on-one meetings to review their loans, discuss consequences of withdrawing, and talk about next steps after they leave and what they need to do to manage their loans.

Another part of ASA is the financial literacy program $ALT. “What schools across the board are discovering is that part of the problem is that students don’t have enough financial skills,” explained Alicea. “They are coming into college not knowing how to balance a checkbook or how to create and follow a budget. So we are trying to instill a lot of that before they ever leave school, years before default is ever even on the table and to give them the skills they need to never be in that position.”

Financial resources are available to alumni. For information on these resources, visit Financial Assistance’s website at