American Student Assistance, UNCF, Promote Financial Education for Minority Students and Alums

20,000 Gates Millennium Scholars will receive free access to wealth-building tools 

Media Contacts:
Allesandra Lanza
American Student Assistance

Ashlei Stevens
UNCF Communications

American Student Assistance®, a private nonprofit dedicated to demystifying the college financing process, is teaming up with UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to develop greater financial competencies among recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

“Far too many college students and graduates today, particularly those of color, are being locked out of the American Dream because they either forego college due to the expense or suffocate under the heavy burden of student debt for years afterward,” said Robert Cole, ASA® director of community impact. “American Student Assistance, UNCF and the Gates Millennium Scholars Program are working together to eliminate finance as a barrier to higher education so that all students can unlock the potential of college, thrive, graduate and achieve their postgraduate dreams.”

UNCF, the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, is joining with ASA to underwrite the delivery of Salt®, ASA’s education finance support program, for 20,000 past and present Gates Millennium Scholars so they can access the program for free. Salt’s full suite of digital services includes an online personal finance curriculum; a Repayment Navigator to track loans and compare repayment plans; search engines for scholarships and careers/internships; an online community to ask questions of peers and experts; and blogs, articles, videos, calculators, tools, and apps that teach users how to take control of their finances.

Salt online content and webinars will be promoted to the Scholars at various times throughout the year. Scholars can also access one-on-one counseling with a loan specialist via a special Salt telephone hotline, email or live chat. Surveys will be distributed pre- and post-Salt activities to determine scholars’ financial education needs and to measure program effectiveness.

UNCF manages the GMS program, a $1.6 billion dollar initiative funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 2000, the GMS program has awarded over $1 billion in scholarships to more than 20,000 Gates Millennium Scholars with a graduation rate of 90 percent, providing an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.

“Many Gates Millennium Scholars are also first generation, low-income students, without the benefit of wealth transfer or wealth knowledge, passed down from generation to generation,” said Larry A. Griffith, UNCF senior vice president for scholarships and programs. “Salt will help our Scholars develop better financial competencies so they can successfully retire any student debt they’ve taken on and thrive as consumers post-college. To close the wealth gaps in our society today, we must build a robust pipeline of high-achieving minorities who can excel in education and life. Salt helps to give them an equal position at the starting line.”


About Salt and American Student Assistance
Salt, powered by the nonprofit American Student Assistance, is an education finance support program that helps remove the financial barriers to higher education so students and alumni can freely and confidently pursue their dreams. Salt leverages ASA’s 60 years of experience managing student debt to empower students to successfully plan for, pay for, and repay their higher education. The program is underwritten by ASA as well as 300 higher education institutions, nonprofits, and employers who partner to successfully guide millions of students and alumni through the financing process. With a combination of financial education, personalized student loan advice, and straightforward budgeting tools, Salt’s unbiased advisors help them make smart decisions about education costs so they can achieve a positive financial future. Visit for more information. 

About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark: A mind is a terrible thing to waste®. Learn more at, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF. 

About GMS
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low-income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose. Continuing Gates Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence by providing thousands of outstanding students, who have significant financial need, the opportunity to reach their full potential. Learn more at 

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