West Virginia Universitys Office of Financial Aid was recognized by a private lending corporation for a graduate student debt management program for medical students. USA Funds, a non-profit education-loan guarantor, recently announced its 2007 Excellence in Debt Management awards and recognized WVU for itseffective and creative debt management program.

The WVU program serves to educate medical students about financial issues including budgeting, credit management, loan consolidation, insurance and investing.

Debt for professional students is rising at a significant pace,said Candance Frazier, associate director of WVU s Financial Aid Office.The debt-management program helps our students understand how to develop good credit skills, reduce the amount debt they incur and manage their finances during this important stage in their career.

The program utilizes presentations and counseling to educate students about financial topics most relevant to them during each stage their education. First year students learn about financial basics while graduating students learn about legal contracts, professional insurance and paying down debtissues that they will soon face as they enter the professional world.

As part of the program, professional students receive a statement each year that outlines their current educational debt and provides an estimate of what their payment would be if they went into repayment that day.

Financial Aid advisers also help each student develop a realistic budget that includes living and education expenses to help them control their spending and reduce unnecessary borrowing.

Were very pleased to have been recognized for our work on this program and the positive results that our students have received,said FraizerWe hope to continue expanding it into other areas of the University and continue building on the success we have experience thus far.

Denise Feser, vice president customer relations at USA Funds stated in a press release,These schools have taken the initiative to develop creative programs of significant scope to help their students minimize debt while in school, manage that debt following graduation and repay the loans that financed their education.

William Tomlinson, a graduate of WVU s School of Medicine and now in his second year of residency at the Charleston Area Medical Center. said that the financial advice and support he received from the program was invaluable.

A medical school student is investing $100,000-$300,000 in their education. To do so without financial advice would be foolish,said Tomlinson.The people behind the scenes of the debt management program provided me with information, arranged seminars and one-on-one meetings with professionals in the field of financial management to help me plan my expenses and make important financial decisions.

Formal recognition of the award came during a ceremony at the National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention, July 11-13 in Orlando, Fla.

Also recognized for outstanding debt management practices were the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, Fla. and the Indiana Business College in Indianapolis.