Financial Awareness Counseling is a government service that helps students understand their loan commitments as borrowers. This is done through an online interactive tool called the FACT or Financial Awareness Counseling Tool. Generally, the aim is to help borrowers manage their finances better to prevent potential financial disasters.
All students and families who have federal student loans can access this tool by logging into their account at studentloans.gov and clicking the Financial Awareness Counseling link.
What to Expect From Financial Awareness Counseling
It takes an average of about 20 – 30 minutes to complete the entire counseling module. Keep in mind, you must complete the whole module in a single session.
The Financial Awareness Counseling module covers important information that all borrowers should be aware of. On completion, you’ll have a better idea of your federal student loans. You’ll also learn how much debt you might have by graduation. However, these are estimates. The exact figure may vary depending on whether you prepay, and several other factors.
There are five categories:
Understanding your loans: In this section, you will be able to see your current federal student loan debt. This information is obtained from the National Student Loan Data System.
Managing your budget: This section gives you access to a tool that allows you to compare your income against your living expenses. You can jot down this information in a spreadsheet to analyze in more detail.
Repayment plans: A budgeting tool in this section allows you to compare your estimated income against your living expenses after graduation. You can use this tool to calculate how much your monthly payments will be with each of the basic repayment plans. You can use this tool to explore different repayment scenarios. Additionally, you can calculate how much you are likely to pay in total interest. To do so, you increase or decrease monthly payments by x amount.
Avoiding default: You may have every intention of staying on top of your monthly payments but life gets in the way and you may find yourself on the brink of default. This section helps you understand the options available to you to avoid getting into default.
Making finances a priority: In this section, you will understand the basics of making sound financial decisions when you are already burdened with student debt. It also offers tips on how to develop a financial plan that works for you.
Should you complete the Financial Awareness Counseling?
Although this is not mandatory, it is advisable to complete this counseling module. Some of the information within this module is the same as the information you will find in Entrance and Exit Counseling. However, Financial Awareness Counseling contains additional information that you won’t find in the other two sessions.
Managing and repaying your students loans can get overwhelming. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself facing default. However, completing this module helps you understand what your options are so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls.
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