As graduation approaches, you might be feeling clueless about your student loans. Fortunately, student loan exit counseling helps you figure out the next steps. Federal student loan exit counseling covers your repayment options, rights and responsibilities and is required for all borrowers with federal student loans, such as Direct or PLUS loans.
Read on to learn how to do exit counseling for student loans as you transition away from college.
- What is student loan exit counseling?
- How to do exit counseling for student loans: 5 steps
- Stay informed about your student loan repayment options
Student loan exit counseling is meant to teach you how to handle your student loan debt. Anyone with Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or PLUS Loans must complete exit counseling for student loans after leaving school.
While there’s no universal student loan exit counseling deadline, there are three scenarios when you must complete it. These include:
- Graduating from college
- Withdrawing from college
- Dropping below half-time enrollment
You have a couple of options to complete exit counseling for your student loans. You could simply sign into your account at StudentLoans.gov and complete the process online. Online exit counseling usually only takes about 20 or 30 minutes.
Alternatively, some schools offer in-person exit counseling sessions. These might take place one-on-one or in a group setting. In-person student loan exit counseling can be helpful if you have questions about your specific situation.
Check your school’s website to see how it handles student loan exit counseling. If you can’t find this information online, get in touch with your financial aid office.
After you complete exit counseling for student loans, you should feel prepared to tackle your student debt. Here’s an exit counseling guide for federal student loan borrowers who want to learn how the process works, step by step:
The first part of federal student loan exit counseling goes over the basics of student loans. At the top of this page, you’ll see your total federal student loan balance.
Then, you’ll get an overview of each type of federal student loan. You’ll learn about subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans, FFELs, Grad PLUS loans and federal Perkins loans.
This section of exit counseling also reviews how student loan interest works. Keep an eye out for the current interest rates of each type of loan you have.
All of this information should basically be a repeat of what you learned during student loan entrance counseling. It goes over the basics to make sure you understand what loans you have and how they work.
Once you’ve read this information, move onto part two to learn about your repayment options.
The second stage of exit counseling is probably the most useful. It goes over all of your options for student loan repayment, including the standard plan and income-driven repayment.
This stage also has a repayment calculator so you can estimate your monthly payments on each plan. You’ll enter information like your projected annual income and monthly housing costs.
Then, the calculator will balance your other expenses with your student loan payments. You can compare plans to see which one best fits within your budget.
A second calculator shows how much you’ll save by paying interest during the grace period. Even though you may not have to immediately start making student loan payments, the earlier you start, the more money you’ll save.
The final interactive tool shows how much you could save by making extra payments toward your student loans. If you can swing it, a regular extra payment each month could shave years off your plan (and thousands of dollars from the total cost).
Beyond these calculators, you’ll also get some extra loan payment tips. For instance, you’ll learn about the 0.25% interest rate deduction you can likely score if you set up automatic withdrawals.
This step is one of the most important parts of exit counseling. Make sure to review the information thoroughly so you know which student loan repayment plan is right for you.
Note that you can change your plan in the future if your circumstances change. Some borrowers even refinance their student loans and switch to a new lender.
The third stage of student loan exit counseling is all about avoiding default. It teaches you about your options if you run into financial hardship.
Instead of bailing on your student loans — which has a number of consequences — you might consider putting your loans into deferment or forbearance. These two options temporarily pause your payments.
That being said, student loan interest will continue to accrue in most cases. The tool below estimates how much interest will add up if you pause your student loan payments.
You’ll also learn about the benefits of federal loan consolidation. While consolidation won’t save you money, it will combine multiple student loans into just one. As a result, it will be easier to keep track of your bill and due date.
You might also qualify for loan discharge if your college closes or you have a disability. This information is most useful for borrowers who are worried about their ability to pay back their loans.
Here, you can learn about all your federal options for avoiding student loan default.
The next stage in exit counseling asks you to think about your personal finances. It goes over how to plan for the future and set long-term financial goals.
These are a few of the key takeaways in this step:
- Build up a three- to six-month emergency fund
- Create a monthly spending plan
- Pay off your full credit card balance every month
- Establish and build up your credit score
Although the information on this page is pretty basic, it contains the central tenets of good money management. This page also encourages you to be more aware of your spending and saving habits.
This final step has some action items for you. Here, you’ll put what you learned from federal student loan exit counseling into practice by choosing your repayment plan. Note that your federal loan servicer will still have to review your information to approve your repayment plan request.
You’ll also enter your most recent contact information. Lots of people move and change their emails after graduation. This step ensures your loan servicer has your most up-to-date information.
If you already have a job lined up, you’ll also enter your employer’s information. You’ll additionally write in the contact information for a relative and two references. In the case of default, the loan servicer will call your references to track you down.
Make sure to review this page before you hit submit. If you need to update your information later, you can sign into your account to do so. And if your income changes, speak with your loan servicer about your options.
After you finish filling out your information, you’re all finished with student loan exit counseling. Once your loan servicer approves your repayment plan, you’ll be ready to enter repayment on the first due date.
Student loan exit counseling is a helpful introduction to student loan repayment. But it doesn’t go over everything, such as how to save money on student loans.
While exit counseling is important, it doesn’t tell you every option for student loan repayment. Seek out other trusted resources for even more tips on paying off student loans.
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2022.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
4 Important Disclosures for Navient.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
6 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.
7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).
IS Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.