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Rights and responsibilities of borrowing

Things to consider before borrowing

Student loans are an important tool to help you pay for college. Most financial experts agree that borrowing funds for any purpose should be looked at and reviewed carefully before committing — student loans are no exception. Most loans cost more than the original amount borrowed due to fees and compounding interest, so it is important to know the facts before committing to taking on debt.

How are student loans different from other loans? Most consider an educational loan an investment because degree completion can lead to a higher salary, which would provide a long-term financial benefit to you. The federal loan program provides better borrower benefits in comparison to private lenders such as lower interest rates, interest subsidies from the federal government and loan forgiveness programs for students in public service and the education field.

Regardless of the benefits, most would agree that individuals should exercise caution when taking on additional debt. As you go through the student loan process, we recommend that you consider:

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. To view this information, please visit Columbia College's College Scorecard.   
  • The consequences of defaulting on your loan.
  • How eligibility for financial aid is determined. See Student Aid Eligibility.
  • 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 Repaying Your Loan.
  • 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 also 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 e-mail address to inform you about the status of your financial aid application, additional information you may need to provide to complete your aid application and upcoming deadlines and important dates.
  • 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 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.

Repaying your loan

Please note: If you are unable to pay your loan, you have options — please review Repaying Your Loan. If you fail to repay your loan, you will be considered in default. If this occurs, your credit rating will be damaged and you might not be able to borrow in the future to pay for a car or home or even to continue your education. Your wages might be garnished and your federal and state income taxes might be withheld; your loan might be sent to a collection agency, and you will be liable for collection fees.

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