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About Us

Overview

Education is at our core. For over 60 years, American Student Assistance® (ASA) has focused on helping students pursue a college degree. In fact, we pioneered an entire student access program and partnered with hundreds of colleges and universities to help students and alumni manage their student loans and maintain financial wellness.

We’ve learned a great deal over these six decades about when students need the most help as they think through their educations and career paths. Today, our work begins with students as young as middle school, providing them tools and resources so they can make informed choices about their futures. Some of what we provide includes:

  • Digital Programming: Developing engaging video content designed to help 13-18-year-olds explore education and career opportunities beyond high school
  • Planning Services: Providing in-person counseling services for education and career planning in local schools, libraries and community organizations
  • Advocacy: Championing policies that will help kids pursue education after high school and attain credentials they will need to achieve their career objectives
  • Partnerships: Collaborating with national and local education institutions, policymakers, nonprofits and businesses to deliver innovative programs and services
  • Research: Using evidence-based models to deliver impactful services and inform students, families and the field about the evolving education and career landscape

Our Mission

ASA’s mission is to help students understand their options and make informed decisions to achieve their education and career goals. We fulfill our mission by providing tools and resources to students online, in classrooms, and through community-based organizations. We are committed to helping students:

  • Explore education and career options starting in middle school
  • Experiment through hands-on opportunities
  • Execute a plan to meet their goals

ASA’s innovative programs and partnerships, combined with a robust research agenda and advocacy platform, enable us to provide meaningful impact to young people on a national scale.

Our History

For more than 60 years as a national nonprofit and student loan guarantor, ASA® has helped students with college access and financing for higher education. Today, we are building on our industry-leading expertise to impact students on a broader scale starting at a younger age. Our experience has helped us identify the critical decision points in a student’s life so we can develop and provide meaningful programs and tools to help them achieve their education and career goals.

With our expanded mission, ASA remains steadfastly committed to student success. The public purpose spirit, nonprofit status, and passion for helping students instilled in our organization from the start still make up who we are and what we do. Decades ago, we pioneered an entire college access program. Today, we are once again breaking new ground in meeting the current and future needs of young people – because we’ve always believed in putting students first.

Read our blog about ASA’s History as an Advocate for Students.

Important Milestones

  • 1965

    ASA—known as the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation (MHEAC)—becomes a guarantor in the federal student loan program.

  • 1980's

    ASA develops deeper relationships with the higher education community and begins to offer educational programs around early awareness and debt management for college students. The Boston College Planning Center is created at the Boston Public Library, becoming the model for college planning centers throughout the nation.

  • 1990's-2000's

    ASA continues its role as a federal student loan guarantor, but works with Congress to establish a new incentive structure for Guaranty Agencies. The model changes so that ASA is paid to ensure that borrowers stay in good standing on their debt, instead of being paid to manage collection of loans. By proactively reaching out to borrowers at risk of delinquency and default, ASA helped to avert more than $120 million of loan defaults before the program was eliminated by the Department of Education. Despite the change in incentive structure, ASA remains committed to a borrower-centric means of doing business.

  • 2010's

    ASA creates Salt® — partnering with more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide, ASA developed a financial wellness program for students and alumni. The program included an online financial education curriculum with over 400 educational activities and courses. Salt achieved 1.5 million registered users at its peak, with over 100,000 unique monthly viewers. Salt courses were measured for efficacy through pre- and post-testing, often seeing increases in knowledge and intent to change behavior between 30-70%. In addition, Salt provided comprehensive education debt management to 3 million borrowers. Through multi-channel targeted communications and a passion for helping students navigate their repayment challenges, ASA helped keep borrowers out of delinquency and default. The ASA borrower cohort default rate was consistently below the national average, while our loans in good standing represented 94% of our portfolio.

  • 2018-Present

    ASA announces an expanded mission to help students earlier in their education journey – starting in middle school – so they can make informed choices about education and career plans after high school. ASA remains committed to delivering significant impact to students on a broad scale.

The Problem We Are Addressing

Today’s economy demands that students graduate from high school, earn some type of degree or credential, and develop knowledge and skills they can use in a job. But far too many young people drop out of high school, fail to enroll in a higher education program, or are unable to complete their credentials. We want students to avoid the financial hardship and misalignment between education and career choices that has had a serious, negative impact on student completion.

Empowering Kids

Students need tools and information to help them make informed choices about life after high school. The path to discovery should begin as early as middle school so students can learn about all the educational and career possibilities ahead of them. We believe that career exploration at an early age can help students develop a clear plan for their future that lessens the financial burden of postsecondary education, and increases their chance of success in their careers.

Our Approach

We empower kids to find and pursue their own education and career path, and provide them with the support and tools they need to get there. ASA approaches its mission from multiple angles—innovating products, partnering, and funding programs and services—that deliver significant impact to kids on a broad scale.