Loan Counseling Changes Affect Schools, Borrowers
By Susan Shogren, Regional Training Executive
Did you know that the content presented to borrowers during entrance and exit loan counseling on StudentLoans.gov has changed? If not, you’ve got plenty of company.
Feedback obtained during USA Funds® University's spring workshops series suggests general awareness of some of the changes announced on March 25, 2013. For example, most workshop attendees know that exit loan counseling has moved to StudentLoans.gov from the National Student Loan Data System. As a result, all three modules are now available in one location.
Many workshop attendees, however, reported being surprised to learn that the U.S. Department of Education enhanced both types of loan counseling by incorporating elements of the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool. Take a look at these modules by accessing the “Counseling Demo” on the “Tools & Resources” panel at StudentLoans.gov.


So what do these changes mean for your student-borrowers?
The loan counseling modules now take longer to complete. Borrowers receive much more information about borrowing, managing finances and avoiding default. Using loan data from NSLDS, they can explore repayment plans and estimate repayment amounts based on a projected loan balance. They also can calculate the interest expense associated with loan deferment and forbearance.
The interactive nature of these sessions gives borrowers an opportunity for more hands-on participation in the online counseling.
Additionally, in an Electronic Announcement issued on April 5, 2013, the Department clarified that borrowers completing exit loan counseling now may choose to indicate a preferred repayment plan. As early as June 2013, the Department will begin sharing borrowers’ preliminary preferences with federal loan servicers, as well as with Federal Family Education Loan Program lenders and guarantors.
And what do these changes mean for you?
When referring borrowers to the Department’s online loan counseling, you’ll want to give students a realistic idea of how long it might take to complete each module with the additional features. Try completing the loan counseling modules yourself, or ask a student-employee for feedback on how long it takes to complete the new loan counseling modules.
Also note that, as of March 24, 2013, the Common Origination and Disbursement system-generated response in message class CRECMYOP includes a new value that identifies a borrower who has completed loan exit counseling on StudentLoans.gov. All existing NSLDS exit counseling reports will continue to identify borrowers who have completed exit counseling on StudentLoans.gov.
If you haven’t registered for a spring workshop to learn more about these and other regulatory changes, as well as promoting smart borrowing and tackling professional judgment challenges, learn more and register. USA Funds University webcasts on these issues also are scheduled for the spring.