Case Study
Blue Ridge Community College
Students No Longer Hid from Debt and the Financial Aid Team Experiences a Lower Default Rate

Nestled in rural Virginia, Blue Ridge Community College is part of the Virginia Community College System, one of 23 community colleges in the state and home to nearly 4,000 students. Serving as a feeder school to James Madison University, Blue Ridge provides many comprehensive degree programs for traditional and non-traditional students.


One of the biggest advantages of attending Blue Ridge is its lower cost and opportunities to pay for school, as students utilized work-study, scholarships, Pell Grant funding, and loans. But while a low percentage of Blue Ridge students took out loans, this still posed an issue for its financial aid department.

Lower Loan Rate Still Proved to be a Challenge for Financial Aid Staff

Megan Hartless, Financial Aid Director at Blue Ridge, said because only 12 percent of BRCC students have loans, it only takes a few defaulted students to dramatically increase the default rate. Their small staff size couldn’t keep up with the heavy task of calling students and discussing their loan repayments. This challenge continued for a few years until the school’s cohort default rate reached 19.5 percent. Nearing the 20 percent tipping point for sanctions, the school knew it needed to take action.


“We went into crisis mode and something needed to change,” Hartless said.

Repayment Counseling Outreach Quickly Made a Positive Impact

Hartless said they looked at other solutions outside of Inceptia but the free solutions available were not robust enough to reduce the default rate effectively. “We ended up doing the bulk of the work ourselves and it was pointless.”


Hartless learned of Inceptia through another community college in Virginia that was already utilizing the repayment solution. Blue Ridge easily tagged onto its contract and within a year and a half saw significant results. Blue Ridge implemented the solution in December 2018 when its default rate was 17.2 percent. Within a year and a half, the rate dropped to 13 percent.


Repayment Counseling Outreach by Inceptia guides students back to successful repayment. Providing unlimited outreach attempts, Inceptia helps resolve each borrower’s personalized, unique situation. Inceptia works as the student’s advocate to the loan servicer, provides robust reporting within a secured portal to the school, and only charges when the borrower’s situation is resolved in full.


“Typically, when students weren’t repaying their loans it’s because they were unaware of how to pay the debt back and then would go into hiding,” Hartless said. “Inceptia stepped in when we couldn’t and made students aware of their repayment options and that made the difference. Their solution was brilliant.”

Real-Time Portal Allows Staff to Stay Current on Student’s Repayment Progress

It’s no surprise Hartless and the staff loved numbers, so it was key to have a robust, real-time portal that gave the staff access to each borrower’s loan situation.


“In addition to getting updates from Inceptia’s service team, I could choose to get the numbers and information I needed at any time.”


The portal tracked the student’s delinquent portfolio, including communication with Inceptia and the loan provider, and ensured all information was accurate and compliant.

Talk to Us

To learn more about Repayment Counseling Outreach, contact your Business Development representative.

Case Study  

Blue Ridge Community College needed to lower its higher student loan default rate but its limited staff size prevented them from doing so. The financial aid team knew an outsourced solution would help students pay back debt and relieve their workload.


The Repayment Counseling Outreach team from Inceptia contacted each defaulted borrower and worked through every unique case. They walked borrowers through step-by-step ways to repay loans, taking into consideration the sensitivity and nature of each situation.

  • A four percent drop in default rate since December 2018 (17.2 to 13percent)
  • Workload relief for the financialaid team

Founded in 1967, Blue Ridge serves approximately 4,000 students within central Virginia. Blue Ridge offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in occupational and technical programs, as well as workforce training and special interest classes. In addition, Blue Ridge provides comprehensive healthcare degrees in EMT, nursing, and bioscience. Its bioscience engineering program was recently launched in partnership with Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Request Resources

Please fill out the form below and click submit. A PDF of the case study will be delivered to the email address you provided.