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Know your rights and responsibilities when borrowing student loans

An educational loan is often considered an investment because a college degree may lead to a higher salary. Student loans are an important tool, but students should exercise caution before taking on debt.

The federal loan program provides better benefits such as lower interest rates and loan forgiveness programs for students in public service and education, so we recommend exhausting federal options before seeking private loans.

As a borrower, you have rights and responsibilities.

You have the right to know:

  • School policy on enrollment, attendance and good academic standing. See "Academic Policies, Regulations and Procedures" in your Academic Catalog.
  • School policy on when you must pay tuition, fees and other costs. See "Tuition and Fees" in your Academic Catalog.
  • Students' median borrowing, default rate and graduation rate at your school. See Columbia College's College Scorecard.
  • The consequences of defaulting on your loan.
  • How eligibility for financial aid is determined. See the Student Aid Eligibility page on the Department of Education website.
  • The financial aid programs available at Columbia College.
  • The type and amount of fees deducted from the loan amount.
  • When loan proceeds will be available and timing of disbursements.
  • When repayment will begin and your average monthly payment.*
  • Information on deferment (postponement of repayment), cancellations and forbearances. See the repaying loans page.
  • If and when your loan is sold or otherwise transferred.*
  • That your loan(s) will not automatically be discharged if you file bankruptcy.*

* This notification is sent by your loan servicer. If unsure of your loan servicer, find contact information at: National Student Loan Data System.

You have a responsibility to:

  • Complete all applications and forms accurately and on time.
  • Provide additional information or documentation, if requested. The Financial Aid Office uses your official Columbia College CougarMail email address to inform you about all financial aid information.
  • Inform the Financial Aid Office of any change in your family's financial circumstances.
  • Complete online loan counseling sessions before you receive your first loan disbursement. You can complete online counseling in CougarTrack under the Financial Aid heading under "Forms."
  • Keep track of all your loans and know the terms and conditions regarding repayment and deferment.**
  • Notify your lender of any changes in your address, name, telephone number or Social Security Number.**
  • Inform the lender if your expected graduation date changes, if you drop out of school or if you drop below half-time attendance.**
  • Inform the lender if you transfer to another school or if your employer's address changes.
  • Attend an exit interview before graduating or leaving school. You can complete online exit loan counseling in CougarTrack under the Financial Aid heading under "Forms".
  • Repay the loan regardless of whether you have completed your education, are satisfied with it or are able to find a job.

** If unsure of your lender or loan servicer, find contact information at: National Student Loan Data System.

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