Entrance Loan Counseling: You’re Joking, Right?

This post is a part of our Monetization of Academia informative web series, and is available online only. To read the full article “The Monetization of Academia” as it appears in this month’s issue, visit Atlanta Tribune online for sales and subscription information.

By Jhanay Davis, Editorial Intern

The most up-to-date report available regarding student loan debt says that the average student owes about $24,000 and will take up to 24 years to repay that debt. As the economy remains stagnant, I can almost guarantee that these figures will increase over the next few years. The rise in student loan debt simply reflects the rising cost of tuition that students and parent are struggling to pay.

The debt crisis at hand is out of control. Student loans currently account for more accumulated debt than credit card debt. This, my friends, is no joke. However, the efforts to help combat this, very much so seem like a joke. First time borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling to warn them about the seriousness of student loans.

This 20-30 minute interactive quiz is supposed to give information about things like the Master Promissory Note (MPN), borrower’s rights, forbearance and default. While this concept sounds great in theory, the results are not that great in reality. It is only required of first-time borrowers, usually freshman students. Recent high school graduates are consumed by reflecting on high school, enjoying the summer before college and imagining the fun that college will bring. These 20-30 minutes do not compare to the other events in their memory banks.

Also, this quiz is seen as a means to an end. The financial aid process for any student can be extensive and painstaking. Entrance counseling is required for the loan but the Master Promissory Note is really the most important part of counseling, which is given upon completion. Personally, I just wanted everything to be over with for my financial aid so I breezed through the quiz because I knew my financial aid office really just cared about the MPN.

Furthermore, counseling or quiz aren’t appropriate terms for this. Borrowers are given too many opportunities to produce correct answers. If there are four answer choices, students are given at least two chances to choose the correct response after reading a brief overview of the concept.

Financial literacy is an important topic that students should be extensively taught because the results of students ignorant to it are evident in today’s multi-million dollar student loan debt. Until an overhaul comes to pass concerning this topic I’ll be forced to keep asking, “Loan entrance counseling, you’re joking right?”

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