May 01, 2024 Melanie Trindade

College Entrance and Exit Counseling - What to expect

What to expect . . .

Studying for finals, check ✅. Senior project, check ✅. Grad tickets, check ✅. Cap and gown pick-up, check ✅. Exit counseling… ❌. It’s on your grad to-do, but what is it?

Whether you’re starting college or about to cross the stage, student loan counseling has most likely been brought up to you. Taking on student loan debt is a big responsibility and there may have been some fine print you may have missed. That’s where entrance and exit counseling comes in.

What is it all about?

This goes way back to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which requires colleges to provide counseling to federal student loan borrowers. As a first-time borrower of subsidized and/or unsubsidized Federal Direct loans, the government and your lender want to ensure that students like you have an understanding of what it will entail.

The short yet comprehensive counseling essentially covers the terms and conditions, your rights, your responsibility and obligation to pay, and more. Many schools take this opportunity to also teach students about financial literacy, such as budgeting. The counseling session must be done online through the FSA website; to learn more head over to

I’m starting school with loans…

Congrats on starting school! Your first homework assignment: entrance counseling. This one you cannot push aside like your old summer reading list. For your loan to be fully processed, you must first complete Entrance Counseling and receive a receipt of your completion. Once you finish up the quick program, your school can receive the money from the loan.

Until then, look forward to learning about:

  • Overview of the types of student loans available (federal, private, etc.)
  • Explanation of interest rates & difference between subsidized vs. unsubsidized
  • Explanation of the use of the Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  • Details on loan grace periods and when repayment begins
  • Explanation of loan deferment and forbearance options
  • Explanation of rights and responsibilities as a borrower
  • Resources for managing student loan debt and seeking assistance if needed

Bonus: You may be required to take financial literacy courses offered by your school. The topics could include finance vocabulary, budgeting, saving money, managing work and school, and more.

I’m leaving school with loans…

Congrats grad! Amid all the excitement, it’s also time to start thinking about repayment. 🙃 No matter if you’re completing school, leaving, or dropping down to less than half-time enrollment, you must complete exit counseling.

  • Overview of remaining loan balance and repayment status
  • Explanation of repayment plan options and how to choose the best one
  • Details on loan consolidation and refinancing options post-graduation
  • Discussion on loan forgiveness programs and eligibility criteria
  • Explanation of loan grace periods and when repayment begins
  • Importance of staying in touch with loan servicers and updating contact information
  • Information on loan deferment, forbearance, and repayment assistance programs
  • Details on loan default consequences and how to avoid default
  • Guidance on budgeting and managing loan payments effectively
  • Explanation of rights and responsibilities as a borrower during repayment

Don’t mentally check out!

We get it! Learning about loans and money management is not the most exciting topic (sorry, finance majors). It may not seem significant at the moment, especially when you’re still in school or beginning your 6-month grace period. However, the information covered in these sessions will be something you will undoubtedly refer back to when considering your repayment options.

Student loans and student debt have become a hot topic, so it is crucial to understand what you’re getting into, whether your loan total is $5K or $50K. Trust us, you want to be prepared for the not-so-good moments like getting laid off, having health issues, etc. No matter what you think about student loans, they allow thousands of students year-round to receive the ultimate investment in their future: an education. Everybody’s education path looks different; ensure that you’re fully equipped for yours.

You can contact your school’s financial aid office and/or refer to the site for more information on student loans.


Published by Melanie Trindade May 1, 2024