What is Student Loan Entrance and Exit Counseling?
The FFEL Stafford and Direct student loan programs, the most common loans available to students nation wide, involve the coordination of a number of different agencies. This can include more than you might think. In addition to you – the student, your school’s financial aid office, private lender banks, the federal government, guarantor agencies, and loan servicing companies are all working together to get your loan funds to you.
With all these people working together, doing your part to keep the system moving smoothly can be relatively simple. One of simplest and most bennificial things you can do is complete your student loan entrance and exit counseling promptly and accurately.
Entrance counseling is part of the “paperwork” you do before taking out your first student loan. Parts of it include reference and contact information for you (info that the other agencies will need), counseling on how to manage and spend your money once you’ve received it, and information on your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. It’s important that you pay close attention to this process while you’re doing it, though it may seem overly simple. Anything that the system suggests you print out and/or keep for your records, do it. This is a good opportunity to start a little file for yourself that will make keeping up with your loan records easier in the future.
Exit counseling is much the same. This has to be completed by students any time they leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Again, the process involves filling out a few quick forms and answering some simple questions. You may be asked to do this more than once during your college career. The main reason for the exit process is to provide the other agencies with the information they need to serve you better. So even if – for instance – you are withdrawing from school, but know that you will be returning in a semester or two, go ahead and fill out the paperwork and return it as quickly as possible.
Loan entrance and exit counseling are required as a part of federal loan programs, but the steps needed to complete them are usually as simple as they are crucial. If you have any questions on whether you have or need to complete either of these processes, consult with your financial aid counselor or representative of your lender bank.