Plan For College

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Understanding College Loan Entrance Counseling

Most college students - current or future - need to borrow money to pay for college. Borrowing money for school is a serious, long-term, financial obligation.

The Department of Education MANDATES that ALL FIRST TIME Federal Direct Student Loan and Federal Grad PLUS borrowers complete an "entrance counseling" session before receiving their first loan. The student loan Entrance Counseling will inform the student of their rights and responsibilities as a borrower.


All student loan borrowers must also complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) which is a legally binding promise to repay the loan that a student will receive.  In most cases, the student will sign only one promissory note that will be used for all of their loans at a single school.  After this occurs, the college that the student will be attending will do one of two things.  They will give the student a copy of the MPN or will offer the student the option of completing the MPN online at www.studentloans.gov.

According to the Federal Student Loan website, when the student signs the MPN, they are confirming they understand that the college they will be attending may make new loans for the student for the duration of student’s education (up to 10 years) without having them sign another promissory note.

If the student attends a college that is outside the U.S., they will need to complete a new MPN each year they receive a Direct Loan.  The student is also agreeing to repay the U.S. Department of Education, all loans made to them.  

When a loan is made on the behalf of the student, the college they are attending must notify the student either in writing or electronically whenever a loan is disbursed.

Whether the notice is in writing or communicated electronically, it must tell the student the date the loan was made and the amount of the loan.  It also will tell the student whether the loan is a subsidized or unsubsidized student loan.

If the student does not want the loan or wants a different amount they can cancel all or a portion of the loan by contacting the college. 

According to the Federal Student Loan website, any student loan proceeds CANNOT be credited to the student’s account until the student does the following:

  • The student must complete both the Entrance Counseling and MPN online at www.studentloans.gov. To do so, Sign on to the StudentLoans.gov site. The log in page will request the student’s Social Security Number, Name, Date of Birth and Federal Student Aid PIN.
  • Once signed in, the student should click on Complete Entrance Counseling and follow the instructions through completion of your Entrance Counseling. It is recommended that the student print out confirmation once it is complete.
  • After this is completed, the student should click the “Complete MPN” link on the left to complete their MPN.    
  • Once the MPN and Entrance Counseling is completed, make sure to logout of the site.
Information on how to complete the Entrance Counseling requirement is provided by the student’s college. Entrance Counseling and Exit Counseling could cover the following:

  • Understanding IRS Form 1098-E
  • How to Make and What Are the Benefits of Electronic Payment
  • Borrower Grace Periods
  • Repayment Plans
  • Loan Interest Rates
  • Trouble Making Payments
  • Different Forms Of Student Loans
  • What Happens If You Default
  • Cancellation and Deferment Options for Teachers
  • Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees
  • Civil Legal Assistance Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (CLAARP)
  • Loan Consolidation Options

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