Student Relief Office Mission Evolved With Student Needs

In July 2017, the Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) opened its doors to California students in crisis with a simple mission: provide assistance to those suffering financial loss due to the closure of their for-profit educational institution.

Soon, the first claims were filed, and OSAR staff hit the ground running, working to help students access funds from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund and achieve debt relief from the U.S. Department of Education, assisting with closed school loan discharges, getting schools to provide refunds to students, and negotiating with loan servicers.

As OSAR assisted victims of school closures, an additional need emerged.

OSAR has evolved into a critical resource to prospective students prior to selecting a college. OSAR can provide information about a private college’s accreditation status, its institutional approval, and an educational program’s history and performance track record in placement and completion. OSAR can also provide individualized case management assistance if students are struggling to select the right college or program.

“At OSAR, we are aware of recent developments at the federal level which have resulted in some students receiving less than full financial relief from existing debt relief programs,” said OSAR Chief Scott Valverde. “We strongly encourage any student who has received a notice indicating only partial loan forgiveness to contact OSAR immediately so that our staff can help you navigate your next step and potentially receive additional relief to which you might be entitled.”

OSAR also strives to get meaningful information into the hands of prospective students so they can make an informed decision about college, analyze their vocational outlook, reduce the likelihood that they’ll have to experience a closure or financial loss, and minimize their student debt.

The “Researching Colleges” section of OSAR’s website compiles information from multiple sources in one convenient place. Information is presented to help students find the right school for them, discover their ideal education style, and access resources to assist them in their decision to enroll in and finance a private college education in California.

OSAR also provides links to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education’s (BPPE) website, where students can access a searchable list of approved private postsecondary schools, as well as enforcement actions against schools.

This month, OSAR will take its message to the public at a college preparation workshop in Sacramento. The event, which is open to the public and free of charge, will feature seminars on how to choose a college, an overview of the systems of higher education in California, and a financial literacy session. More information about the event is available at OSAR’s website.

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