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Paying for College

Word of the Day Wednesday: Entrance Counseling

Each Wednesday, MEFA will feature a Word of the Day, in which we'll highlight a word (or sometimes a phrase) related to the college planning process. This month, we're focusing on vocabulary related to Federal Direct Student Loans, and will highlight terminology related to borrowing a Direct Loan.

Today's Word of the Day is Entrance Counseling.

Entrance counseling is a tutorial for borrowers of Federal Direct Student Loans, including Subsidized Direct Loans, Unsubsidized Direct Loans, and Graduate PLUS Loans. Entrance counseling:

    • Reviews important terminology and loan policies

    • Explains the cost of interest

    • Provides guidance on borrowing wisely (and not borrowing more than you need)

    • Lists other potential resources to help pay for college

All borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling before the disbursement of their loan(s), though borrowers only need to complete it once. However, borrowers of Graduate PLUS Loans must complete entrance counseling before the disbursement of their first Graduate PLUS Loan even if they have completed entrance counseling in the past for a Subsidized or Unsubsidized Direct Loan.

The requirements on completing entrance counseling differ from college to college. Some require in-person participation, either in groups or one on one with a financial aid administrator. Other colleges allow students to complete entrance counseling online and many use the federal website,

Why does this matter to you?

If you plan to borrow a Direct Loan, entrance counseling will provide important information to help you understand the full cost of borrowing the loan and the guidelines for repayment. Taking on debt to pay for college costs is a serious decision, and it's necessary to know all the facts about your loan(s) before agreeing to borrow.

Check in with your college to find out your own entrance counseling requirements. And if you have questions about your loans, or borrowing for college costs in general, contact us at 800-449-MEFA (6332) or


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