Online Counseling User's Guide

Follow the regulatory requirements

While Mapping Your Future's Online Counseling can relieve you of the burden of conducting in-person entrance and exit counseling sessions, you must continue with all regulatory procedures:

Maintain documentation substantiating your compliance with regulations

You can easily and securely retrieve borrowers' counseling records (manually or via an automated method) and retain them to meet this regulatory requirement for all counseling type. Read more about record retrieval.

Provide sample repayment information

Regulations require schools to provide school-specific sample repayment information to students 

  • To meet current regulations, Mapping Your Future includes a chart with a range of indebtedness in Direct Loan and Direct PLUS entrance counseling sessions. You may choose to enhance the entrance counseling and provide borrowers with sample monthly repayment amounts based on other students at your school.
  • Mapping Your Future includes a sample repayment scenario for each repayment plan in Direct Loan and Direct PLUS exit counseling sessions; however, you must provide the student’s actual or the school or program’s average indebtedness per loan type.

Below are options for providing the required information to your borrowers:

  • Display average indebtedness information for borrowers at your school (and/or your programs of study), along with the accompanying monthly payment amount at the maximum interest rate
    • Include the information in correspondence to the borrower notifying him or her to complete counseling
    • Direct borrowers to your website to complete online counseling and include the information on your site before the link to the counseling session
    • Create a customized counseling start page and provide the information on that page
  • Use indebtedness customization to display average loan amounts for your borrowers above the Debt/Salary Wizard portion of the counseling session

Respond to students' questions

For nearly all counseling types, regulations require that someone with expertise in the federal student aid programs be available to answer borrowers’ questions shortly after the interview, should the borrower do so via interactive or online means. 
Mapping Your Future allows borrowers to enter a question/comment for you. You should pay particular attention to the "Comments" section of counseling confirmation records—and answer any questions. You can access the comments as follows:

  • In full, in individual e-mail notifications
  • In full, in individual confirmation records online in the Access Area
  • On the printable reports you download from your Access Area (may be limited if the comment is long; if so, login to your Access Area and view the counseling record individually)

If you are receiving e-mail notifications via batch reports, you will need to check the comments from individual reports or printable reports. If you've elected not to receive e-mail notifications, you can choose to receive notice on those occasions when a borrower enters a comment on the field.

Provide contact information

For Direct Loan and Direct PLUS entrance counseling sessions, regulations require that schools provide borrowers with a name and contact information for questions regarding borrower’s rights and responsibilities and loan terms and conditions, should the borrower do so via interactive or online means. You can create a customized counseling start page for each counseling type and provide this information on those pages.

Provide Direct Loan servicing information

Regulations require that schools provide schools information on how to contact the party servicing the Direct Loans. Mapping Your Future has added general Direct Loan contact information to the exit counseling sessions to help with this requirement. You also can create a customized counseling start page for each counseling type and provide this information on those pages.

Define half-time enrollment

For Direct Loan and Direct PLUS entrance counseling sessions, regulations require that schools define half-time enrollment during regular terms and summer school, if applicable. You can create a customized counseling start page for each counseling type and provide this information on those pages.

Discuss the importance of contacting appropriate offices if withdrawing

For Direct Loan and Direct PLUS entrance counseling, regulations require that schools discuss the importance of borrowers contacting the appropriate offices if they withdraw. You can create a customized counseling start page for each counseling type and provide information, including the list of appropriate offices, on those pages.

Forward exit counseling information to the guaranty agency and/or Direct Loan Program

Regulations require that schools send Direct Loan and Direct PLUS exit counseling records to guaranty agencies and the Direct Loan Program within 60 days of the borrowers completing counseling. Mapping Your Future’s ExitExpress allows you to meet this requirement easily.
You are responsible for ensuring the guaranty agency retrieves the exit data within 60 days of the borrower completing counseling, and you will need to export Direct Loan records and then upload them to NSLDS (print or record and mail them to the Direct Loan Program). Read more about ExitExpress procedures.

Disclose written repayment information to Perkins borrowers

Perkins Loan regulations still require disclosure of critical repayment information to the borrower in a written statement, which should include the following:

  • The estimated balance owed by the borrower on the date on which the repayment period is scheduled to begin
  • The repayment schedule for all loans covered by the disclosure, including the date the first installment payment is due, the rate of interest and the number, and the amount and frequency of required payments
  • The total interest charges the borrower will pay on the loan pursuant to the projected repayment schedule

Meet other requirements

Mapping Your Future's Online Counseling sessions meets other current regulatory requirements, including the following:

  • Borrowers are not able to circumvent or exit the counseling program before the required counseling session is complete.
  • The information in the counseling sessions meets all applicable regulatory requirements.

The professional staff and team members continue to monitor regulations regularly, updating the counseling sessions as often as necessary.
Learn more information about recent regulatory changes Mapping Your Future made to the counseling sessions.