From Passive to Proactive: Understanding and Improving the Borrower Experience with Online Student Loan Exit Counseling

Legally mandated student loan exit counseling attempts to prepare borrowers of federal student loans for the repayment process; yet, researchers hypothesized that the online modules most borrowers use for this purpose have significant shortcomings. This report (the second in a series of five from TG Research) describes a study in which researchers observed, recorded, and interviewed student loan borrowers as they went through federally mandated student loan exit counseling using online counseling modules. By coding and analyzing data from these interviews, researchers identified how borrowers’ attitudes and ideas about their loans, combined with different content and design factors, produce behavioral patterns that impair effective learning. Based on these findings, researchers offer recommendations for counseling module designers, financial aid practitioners, and policymakers.


Chris Fernandez, With Carla Fletcher, Kasey Klepfer, and Jeff Webster

Release Date

February 2015


Fernandez, C., Fletcher, C., Klepfer, K., & Webster, J. (2015). From Passive to Proactive: Understanding and improving the borrower experience with online student loan exit counseling . TG Research. Retrieved from: