As state legislators consider a tax break for some Iowans with student loan debt, a university based in Iowa’s capitol city is launching what it calls a “financial empowerment plan” to help its students reduce tuition debt. Carol Bamford, spokeswoman for Grand View University in Des Moines, says their new effort to reduce costs for students is one-of-a-kind. “It is so comprehensive,” Bamford says. “We don’t know of anybody else that’s doing anything like it and it’s also so personal. It’s tailored to each particular family situation.”

She says many college students overestimate the size of the loan they need but when they see four years of monthly payments, they are likely to borrow less. The pilot program begins this fall and will involve individual meetings between students and financial coaches to develop a payment plan and an academic plan. Bamford says the program stands out because it combines financial and academic advising. “Part of what happens with the program is that we make commitments to them and they make commitments, too,” Bamford says. “Part of their commitment is they’ll select a major by the end of their second year and they will have a four year plan of study.”

Bamford says the program allows students to calculate how much they’ll have to pay back to earn their degrees.