Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Exit Counseling

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 clicking “Complete Exit 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 email from Heartland ECSI  to complete the exit counseling requirement online. (If the online exit counseling is not completed within 30 days, an exit packet will be mailed).

Individual exit counseling is also available upon request. Contact Student Financial Services at to make an appointment. Please complete the online exit counseling before scheduling an 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:

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, please contact Student Financial Services at

Completing your exit counseling on the 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:

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.

Back to top