How to Find Your Student Loan Balance
Find Out How Much You Owe Even if You Forgot Your Lenders
It can be easy to lose track of all of your student loans and your total balance—especially when you're busy in college. Many students receive many small loans per semester, which can be a mixture of federal student loans—such as Perkins, Stafford, and PLUS—and private student loans. While your school financial aid office may be able to help you find some basic facts and figures, there are some other effective ways to find out your total student loan balance.
Finding Your Federal Student Loan Balances
You can always access student loan information through your My Federal Student Aid account. Another route to find out your federal student loan balances is to go directly to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid, and it keeps track of all your federal student loans. NSLDS stores information so you can quickly check it whenever you need to, and it will tell you which loans are subsidized or unsubsidized.
For both websites, you'll need a Federal Student Aid ID username and password to log in. You can create them easily through either website if you don't already have them.
How NSLDS Knows Your Student Loan Balances
NSLDS receives information for the database from a variety of sources, including guaranty agencies, loan servicers, and other government loan agencies. When you enroll in a college or university, the school also sends information, including any student loan debt you took on, to NSLDA. It notes when you took out the loan, when it was disbursed, when your grace period ended, and even when you paid it off.
The NSLDS is useful because it gives a total picture of your federal loans at once, so you know right away how much federal debt you have. However, it doesn't include any information about your private student loans.
Finding Your Private Student Loan Balances
Finding information about your private student loans can be a bit more difficult than getting your federal loan balances since private lenders sometimes sell their loans to other companies. If you're not sure who your lender is for private student loans, then call your school's financial aid office for help, or call your original lender, if you know it.
If neither of those options work for you, then you can still figure out your private student loan lenders by reviewing your credit report. You can safely get a free annual credit report from all three reporting agencies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—at AnnualCreditReport.com. The report should show all of your current debts and accounts, including any and all student loans.
Why It Pays to Track Your Student Loans
While it might seem complicated, it is essential to keep track of the student loans you have and the total amount of debt you owe. This includes knowing not only how much you borrowed, but how much you owe once interest is added. This can be helpful while you are in college and as you start your budgeting process after graduation.
Once you have a solid number to start with, you can begin to create a repayment plan to get rid of that debt as quickly as possible. You can develop a repayment plan that works for your salary and lifestyle, but that pays down the debt quickly to save you money over time.