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Getting Ready to Go -- Your Entrance Interview

The anticipation level is rising as summer progresses for soon-to-be-college freshmen across New York. Freshly graduated from high school, students are buying their dorm décor, clothes, and accessories to make college life comfortable. As moving-in day approaches, you'll need to ensure that your financial aid package has been finalized. The New York State Higher Education Services Corp. (HESC) reminds students they may be required complete entrance counseling if they are taking a student loan. HESC is the state agency that helps people pay for college.

What is entrance counseling?
Students taking out Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loans for the first time may be required to complete entrance counseling. If you are receiving a Perkins Loan from your school, check with the financial aid office to see what requirements you must meet. The entrance counseling is completed online and can be done in about 30 minutes; your school will provide the URL.

An increasing number of colleges prefer to include additional “financial fitness” workshops as part of their freshman or transfer student orientation program, so you may complete the entrance counseling during the session.

Why do I need to do this now?
First and most important, your federal loans will not be disbursed to your college account until the entrance counseling is successfully completed if required. The counseling ensures you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a new student loan borrower. Remember, a student loan is money you are expected to pay back.

You may not remember everything covered in the entrance counseling session, but the terms and references will be familiar when, at the end of your college career, you complete exit counseling and get ready to repay your loans.

Parents – don’t do it!
As tempting as it may be for parents to complete the online entrance counseling for their children, parents are encouraged not to do it. This federally required counseling is designed to help students understand the terms of their education loans as well as their rights and responsibilities as borrowers. So, parents: do your student a favor and let him or her complete it themselves.

Keeping Your Promise
By completing the entrance counseling, you are making a promise to repay your student loan when it becomes due, according to the terms of the loan. It is your responsibility to keep that promise.

“I didn’t know,” will not be an operative phrase regarding your student loans later as you end your college career; your completed entrance and later, exit counseling will be proof that you were informed of your financial rights and responsibilities.

Your financial aid package is one of the keys making it possible for you to attend college. Your entrance interview will ensure that you understand the terms of your loan along with your rights and responsibilities after you graduate.