Financial Literacy

College is a time of newfound freedom for many students. That can spell trouble if that freedom applies to personal finances, too. Students need to understand basic money management skills such as living within a budget and handling credit and debt. A solid financial foundation can lead to a lifetime of financial success.

To help you build that solid financial foundation Holyoke Community College is providing SALT, a new membership program, as a gift to all students. SALT will help you take charge of your finances, look for jobs and internships, access exclusive discounts and deals, and understand loan repayment options if you have student loans. Plus, it will always be free to our students. Always.

In a concerted effort to help students understand the federal student loan program, the Financial Aid office has put together the following Financial Aid Student Loan Information Sessions. We hope you are able to join us!

Financial Aid Student Loan Information Sessions

Wednesday, April 4, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., KC 303
How to cut student debt before, during, and after college.

Wednesday, April 11, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., KC 303
Know what you owe! Learn how to access NSLDS to obtain your loan balance and loan service agency information.

Wednesday, May 9, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., KC 303
Repayment: Do you have a loan and have dropped below six credits, graduating, transferring to another college, or taking a semester off? Learn about the options available to you for your loans. 

Topics of Interest

How Does Interest Work?

Interest is basically the cost of borrowing money. Depending on the account you have, interest can increase the amount you earn (like with a savings account) or the amount you owe (like with a loan).

Updated: September 15, 2016

What You'll Learn

  • How lenders charge interest, and why.
  • When interest is a good thing for you.
  • How to figure out when your savings will double in value.

Get In Touch With Your Loan Servicer
Make sure they're able to contact you. If you're not sure how to contact them, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®). That's the federal government's central database for student loan information. There, you can find out who is servicing all your federal student loans, as well as how much you owe and other important loan details.

When They Do Contact You, Pay Attention
Now that you know your servicer, be on the lookout for information from them. Check your spam filter once in a while. And if you get a phone call from a number you don't know? Well, to be honest, I don't always answer those calls either. But at least listen to the voice mail.
"But I don't need to open all their emails. I'm still in school." I hear that a lot, too. Maybe they're emailing you because they don't know you're in school. Perhaps you're just taking one class or "taking a semester off but going back in the fall." In these cases, you'd be enrolled at less than half-time status. That means your grace period would have already begun, and after that, repayment starts.

Know Your Options
If you stay informed and in contact, you'll have a better chance of staying out of default. You have options to pull your loan out of default (rehabilitation, consolidation), or avoid it altogether depending on how late your payments are. But ignoring the situation and your servicer definitely won't help things.

150% Time Limitation on Loan Subsidy

This legislation limits the timeframe for which you are eligible to receive the subsidy on Federal Direct student loans and it impacts students considered to be new borrowers after July 1, 2013. New borrowers include:

  • Those who have never borrowed a Federal Direct student loan prior to July 1, 2013
  • Those who have previously borrowed, but have a zero balance due as of July 1, 2013

This legislation limits Federal Direct Subsidized loans to 150% of the length of a student's academic program. For example, new student borrowers in a two-year program can only receive subsidized loans for three years. The length of time is measured in academic years. Students who reach this limit may be eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans if they are otherwise eligible to receive them.

Furthermore, students who reach the 150% point and have not yet completed their program will lose the subsidy on all outstanding subsidized loans. The loans do not enter repayment at this point; however, the borrower becomes responsible for paying the interest rather than the government. This limit is based on the amount of time a student is enrolled in a program and not the amount the student borrows (with some exceptions). Less than full-time enrollment status will impact the length of time a borrower is eligible for the interest subsidy. The legislation was passed in hopes of encouraging students to complete programs of study more quickly and allowances are granted when a student completes a degree/certificate within the 150% timeframe.

It is important to note that this is separate from Satisfactory Academic Progress, aggregate loan limits, and the Pell grant lifetime eligibility used limits. Approval of Satisfactory Academic Progress appeals will not extend the length of time in which you will qualify for the subsidy on student loans. This is very new and complicated legislation. The Department of Education is still trying to find out the logistics of how some of this will all work and they continue to offer information to us as it is available. If you would like more information we encourage you to come to the HCC Financial Aid Office during our regular business hours to meet with the counselor-on-call. They can assist you in reviewing your borrowing history and explaining how this legislation will impact you.

Read additional information from the U.S. Department of Education.


As part of an initiative to ensure that Holyoke Community College students are financially literate for their lifetime, Holyoke Community College has partnered with American Student Assistance (a nonprofit organization) to create a free financial education program for our current Holyoke Community College students, as well as our alumni. This product is called SALT.

How To Give Gifts Without Spending Too Much Money

Giving a gift can become stressful if you're not sure how much to spend – or can't afford to spend much. By setting limits and being creative, you can keep your experience (and your recipient) happy.

Updated: November 19, 2015

What You'll Learn

  • Why you should set a budget for gifts.
  • Ways to help you manage gift costs.
  • Inexpensive gift ideas for any occasion.
What is SALT?

SALT was created by American Student Assistance, a nonprofit organization, to help current Holyoke Community College students like you become more financially savvy. This program rewards you for making smart money decisions, and we're providing all of its services to you – including your membership – free of charge.

Activating your SALT membership allows you take advantage of members-only features, like:

  • Interactive money management tools that show you how to take control of your finances
  • A personal dashboard that tracks all of your student loans in one place
  • Loan advice from SALT's expert counselors
  • My Money 101-a self-paced, online training resource that teaches you practical money management strategies for budgeting, credit management, and more
  • Access to thousands of jobs and internships to jumpstart your career
  • Exclusive benefits that help you save and spend smart

For more information, visit the SALT website.

Master Your Plastic

Control your credit card balances and find out what your spending means for your future.

What You'll Need

  • Your credit card statement(s)
  • Your bank statement(s)

Net Price Calculator

These calculators will help you get an estimate of the amount of grant aid you might expect to receive if you attend HCC full-time and meet all federal and state financial aid eligibility requirements.


Contact us

Questions? Contact the Financial Aid office: