All students who have borrowed federal educational loans while attending Northwestern University are required by federal regulation to complete exit counseling upon graduation, withdrawal from the University or dropping below half-time enrollment status. The type of loan exit counseling you will be required to complete will depend upon the type of federal educational loan you have received.
Students who have borrowed from the Federal Stafford and/or GradPLUS Loan programs can complete their exit counseling session online by visiting the Federal Student Aid site and click “Complete Counseling." The process will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Please note that you must complete the entire session once you begin. If you close your browser before receiving confirmation of successful completion of the session and then return later, you will need to start over from the beginning. Once you have successfully completed the session, your "To Do List" in CAESAR will be updated to “Completed!” within 5 business days.
Students with Perkins Loans will receive an exit packet from the NU Student Loan Office as completion of the exit counseling requirement for this loan. (Online exit counseling is not yet available for Federal Perkins Loans). The exit packets will be distributed at the group exit counseling sessions or through the mail (for students who cannot attend a group session).
Group exit sessions for graduating students are scheduled at certain times of the year to provide an opportunity for further questions. Students will be notified of the dates/locations by email and have the ability to select the session that best meets their schedule. Individual counseling is also available upon request. Contact Student Financial Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. We recommend that students complete the online exit counseling before attending a group or individual session.
Why do I need exit counseling?
By federal regulation, any student with an outstanding federal student loan balance is required to complete exit counseling when:
- Withdrawing from the university (even if you plan to transfer to another school)
- Dropping below half-time student status (even if you plan to continue attending NU). Half-time student status for quarter programs is defined as enrollment in 2 credits per term. Students in other programs should check with their department to determine the definition of half-time status.
If you do not meet any of the above criteria, please contact Student Financial Services at email@example.com.
Completing your exit counseling on the StudentLoans.gov website satisfies the federal requirement for your Federal Stafford and GradPLUS Loans. Exit counseling explains your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and provides:
- Your outstanding loan balance
- An estimated monthly payment amount
- An explanation of the various repayment plans
- Pros and cons of loan consolidation
- Information regarding loan forgiveness, deferments, and forbearance
IMPORTANT: Federal Direct Loans vs. Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)
The online exit session mentions the difference between Federal Direct and Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans. Direct Stafford & GradPLUS loans were borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. FFEL Stafford & GradPLUS loans were borrowed through private lenders, such as Citibank and Wells Fargo. Many (if not most) FFEL loans have since been sold to the U.S. Department of Education.
However, FFEL loans that were sold to the U.S. Department of Education remain FFEL loans unless consolidated into the Direct Loan Program. This is important because only Direct loans are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and for the Pay as You Earn repayment plan.
Contact your loan servicer to select/change repayment plans, apply for deferments, forbearance, cancellation/forgiveness or with any questions regarding your Federal Stafford or GradPLUS loans.
You can view the current loan holder(s) and loan servicer(s) for all your federal loans (those borrowed while attending NU and any prior institutions) in the National Student Loan Data System.