This year’s graduating class is the first since 2019 to know exactly when student loan repayment will start. It’s been confirmed that the current repayment pause will end sixty days after the Supreme Court makes a decision on the Biden administration’s loan forgiveness program or sixty days after June 30 — whichever comes first. There hasn’t been much impetus to put a lot of resources into exit counseling not knowing when the students would actually have to make payments, but this year, more than ever, it’s a good time to think about expanding your support to other alumni.
You can see the minimum requirements to offer compliant exit counseling in Chapter 6 (Consumer Information and Reporting) of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Handbook. Most of these are met if you use the online counseling available on the FSA website. The only additional information you need to provide is either an anticipated monthly payment for the student based on their indebtedness or the average anticipated monthly payment based on the indebtedness of borrowers at that school or in the same program at that school. All of this information is crucial for student loan borrowers to have when they are making the decisions needed to effectively manage their student loans, but the time it is delivered probably couldn’t be worse. We only have a ‘captive audience’ for a few short months and we need to compete with exams, job searches, further educational plans and of course, celebrating graduation. Also, don’t forget that a large number of your alumni that will be starting student loan repayment this year had exit counseling as long as three years ago!
With that said, we don’t recommend putting any bells and whistles on your pre-graduation exit counseling program — just make sure it is compliant. Instead, work to put together a communication plan to get borrowers the information they need when they need it. It can be something as simple as an ad in your Alumni magazine or an email blast (get your email addresses from the alumni office too to maximize effectiveness). Most students will be able to find what they need at FSA, so refer them there and you’re work is done! If you have the resources, your can offer additional services like individual counseling meetings or recommend local trusted agencies that may do so. Timing is of the essence. For your alumni population, sometime between March and May seems optimal – certainly no later than June. Your 2023 graduates would benefit from a reminder in the late summer or early fall.
If you’re worried about having sufficient staff to manage your exit counseling program (or anything else!), check out our interim staffing solutions at www.heag.us.