Western University of Health Sciences will soon equip its students and graduates with a new tool to help with financial planning and debt management.

The WesternU Office of Alumni Relations will provide all WesternU students and alumni free access to SALT, an educational program designed to instill financial savviness in students and alumni.

“WesternU is proud to offer SALT as a free benefit to our current and future alumni,” said WesternU Alumni Relations Director Russel Heskin. “The financial resources this program provides will empower our students and recent graduates to better understand their student loans and manage their repayment. This service will give our alumni financial peace of mind and enable them to focus more on improving the health of their communities.”

WesternU students and recent graduates will receive an email the week of May 14, 2012 with activation instructions for SALT. The program uses a variety of channels to meaningfully engage student and alumni members and positively influence behavior. Members receive proactive communication about student loan repayment options; one-on-one repayment counseling with student loan experts; a personalized online dashboard to track all their federal and private student loans in one place and compare payment options; a highly interactive Web financial education curriculum and other educational content; multiple “self-serve” Web tools and calculators to assist with budgeting; advocacy and assistance with resolving complex student loan related problems; and meaningful benefits and incentives relevant to either the higher education experience or to the financial needs they face after completing college, such as assistance with job/internship and scholarship searches.

WesternU students typically graduate with a high loan debt, but they are also highly employable in a growth industry – the health professions. Each WesternU program differs, but 2011 WesternU graduates had an average indebtedness ranging from about $30,000 to more than $200,000. Yet WesternU’s Student Loan Default Rate declined from 0.4 percent to 0.1 percent in the latest report from the U.S. Department of Education, a two-year default rate for the year ending June 30, 2009.

WesternU’s Financial Aid office helps students understand debt management. All entering students spend time with a financial aid counselor to learn about budgeting. SALT will provide an additional resource to them.

SALT is created by American Student Assistance®, a 56-year-old nonprofit that empowers college students and alumni to successfully manage and repay their student loan debt. Previous ASA programs have demonstrated that students provided with proactive, customized and targeted communication are 50 percent less likely to fail in loan repayment.

To learn more about SALT or to gain access to the full SALTMONEY.ORG site for a demonstration, reporters are invited to contact Ellen Scontras, Marketing at 617- 521-6037 or escontras@asa.org.

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About Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences (www.westernu.edu), located in Pomona, Calif. and Lebanon, Ore., is an independent nonprofit health professions university, conferring degrees in biomedical sciences, dental medicine, health sciences, medical sciences, nursing, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, podiatric medicine and veterinary medicine.

About American Student Assistance

American Student Assistance is a Boston-based nonprofit with a public purpose mission that’s never been more needed: Help college students and alumni successfully manage the debt that comes with higher education today. In support of our mission, we’re sparking a movement to incent financial savviness in young adults — and creating a more financially literate citizenry along the way. Through our dynamic, multichannel membership program SALT, ASA is revolutionizing the way that students and alumni learn about money, by educating, empowering and incentivizing them to truly own their finances so they’ll make smarter student loan and consumer debt decisions for a lifetime. Established in 1956 and based in Boston, Massachusetts, ASA employs approximately 450 associates and has been recognized by the Boston Business Journal and Boston Globe as one of the region’s best places to work. Visit www.asa.org or call 617-728-4631 for more information.