One important step before you graduate: loan exit counseling

Ace your student loan exit interview

Understand the scope of your student loans and start planning for repayment.

You’ve completed your coursework, your senior thesis, and ordered your cap and gown. But before you get too excited about finally graduating, there’s one more task you need to complete if you borrowed money to help pay for the cost of your college education.

You need to go through loan exit counseling, sometimes called an exit interview, with your university’s financial aid office. Not checking this box means your college may not issue your transcript or diploma. It’s an important meeting, and for good reason.

Though it might be tempting to get through the counseling as fast as you can, this is a great opportunity to gain valuable information about your student loans and how you can repay them. Here’s what you need to know to ace your college loan exit counseling on your way to graduation.

Do you need exit counseling?

People who borrowed subsidized, unsubsidized, or PLUS loans under the Direct Loan Program or the FFEL Program must go through exit counseling. You need to complete college loan exit counseling when you graduate — but also any time you drop below part-time enrollment or leave school entirely.

What you need to bring with you to your exit counseling

The first thing you need is a scheduled appointment. Depending on your school, your counseling may take place in person or online. Contact the financial aid department or go to to complete the exit counseling process through their site.

Then, plan to have the following information on hand:

  • Your social security number
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your FSA ID
  • Your nearest relative’s name, address, and phone number
  • The names, addresses, and phone numbers for two references
  • The name, location, and phone number of your employer or future employer (if applicable)

You’ll also need to share information on your future income, financial aid, and your expected living expenses, if you know the details.

What to expect to get from the exit counseling

The college loan exit counseling process will explain exactly how much money you borrowed and how much you now owe.

That piece of information is important, and the next section of the counseling will help you create a plan to repay your student loan debt. It outlines estimated payments and provides a sample budget for you to use. Further along in the counseling, you’ll get financial education and actionable tips you can use to properly manage your money.

The counseling will go over your options for repayment plans, how to determine if you qualify for loan forgiveness, or if consolidation makes sense for your situation. It will also explain important terms to know and understand, like what it means to enter delinquency or to default on your loans and what happens to your loans if you pass away.

Finally at the end of the counseling, you’ll get a chance to apply for a repayment program.

Think you’re ready? You can go to the website and see a demo of the online counseling process so you’ll know what to expect during the real thing.

A note on repaying private loans

If you have private student loans, you may not have to complete exit counseling. However, you should still equip yourself with knowledge to understand your repayment options, and make informed financial decisions after college. Log into your student loan servicer’s website to view your loan balances and expected minimum student loan payment, or find your loan servicer using the Federal Student Aid site. Here you’ll find:
•   Loan servicer name and contact information
•   Your federal loans and grants
•   Loan details
•   Common financial aid questions and answers
•   Glossary of terms

Learn strategies for paying off your student loans early.

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