Entrance counseling sessions are required to be conducted by the school prior to each student receiving his/her first loan (not the first loan at that institution) either in person (individually or in a group), by audiovisual presentation or by interactive electronic means. Schools must also have an individual with expertise in the Title IV aid programs available after the counseling to answer the borrower's questions regarding those programs. The school must maintain documentation of compliance with entrance counseling for each borrower, including acknowledgement of receipt of written or online counseling.
There is a prescribed list of items that must be covered in the entrance counseling session. This checklist will help ensure that the requirements for entrance loan counseling are being met. Schools must:
- Reinforce importance of repayment;
- Describe consequences of default;
- Remind students of the obligation to repay the student loans, even if he/she does not complete school, cannot find a job or is dissatisfied with the education received;
- Provide sample monthly repayment amounts, based on either:
- a range of levels of indebtedness of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford borrowers, and as appropriate, unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loan graduate borrowers, or
- average cumulative debt of other borrowers in same program, at same school.
Other suggestions for entrance counseling include:
- Review the availablity of state grant aid;
- Review terms and conditions of the loan;
- Review repayment options;
- Discuss how to manage expenses (budgeting) while in school;
- Reinforce importance of communicating change of status, etc., with the lender/servicer;
- Review deferment, forbearance, cancellation options and procedures;
- Review Borrower's Rights and Responsibilities;
- Review refund and other policies affecting withdrawals;
- Reinforce importance of keeping loan records; and
- Remind student of exit counseling requirement.