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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, there are other bases that still need to be covered, including finalizing your financial aid package. The New York State Higher Education Services Corp. (HESC) reminds students they must complete an entrance interview if they are taking a student loan. HESC is the state agency that helps people pay for college.

What is an entrance interview?
Federal regulations require first-time borrowers of federally subsidized student loans, either Stafford or Perkins, to complete a pre-loan counseling session called an entrance interview.

Often completed online using the “Mapping Your Future” Web site (www.mappingyourfuture.org) , the interview can be done quickly. As you finish each section, you will be given a short quiz to ensure you understand the information provided to you.

You will learn some financial aid terms, such as forbearance, deferment, academic progress, among others.

Once you’ve completed the online session, you will be given a confirmation number; an e-mail will be sent to your college financial aid office noting your successful entrance interview.

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 interview during the session.

Why do I need to do this now?
You have two or four years, perhaps more, of college ahead of you – why is it important to know about your financial aid obligations now?

First and most important, your federal loans will not be disbursed to your college account until the entrance interview is successfully completed.

The interview 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 interview, but the terms and references will be familiar when, at the end of your college career, you complete an exit interview and get ready to repay your loans.

College students often change addresses; the contact information you are asked to provide will help your college and loan provider locate you, in case you move and forget to update your address.

Parents – don’t do it!
As tempting as it may be for parents to complete the online entrance interview for their children, parents are encouraged not to do it. This federally required interview 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 interview, 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 interviews will be proof that you were informed of your financial rights and responsibilities.

Read everything that comes from your chosen college
Your college’s financial aid office determines how the entrance interview is conducted. Be sure to read all the material arriving in your mailbox (or in some cases, your e-mail box) this summer. Communications from the financial aid office will include details about your aid package and how your college expects you to complete the entrance interview.

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.

More resources
For complete information on loans, including borrowing limits, features, terms, and repayment details, visit hesc.ny.gov and listen to HESC's podcast, Smart Borrowing Tips.