How to Find Your Student Loan Balance
Even If You Forget Your Lender, You Can Find How Much You Owe
One of the key strategies in paying for college is using an appropriate amount of student loans. These allow parents and students to bridge the gap between the costs of attending college and the amount of financial aid received.
It’s a difficult balancing act trying to borrow the correct amount of money to be able to pay outstanding current expenses, while not borrowing so much that it will make it difficult to repay these loans after graduation. It is a good idea to keep track of exactly how much you borrow, and how much you owe once interest is added on so that you will have a better handle on what your student loan payment responsibilities will be in the future.
When you're busy in college, though, it can be easy to lose track of your loans and your total balance. Many students even receive many small loans per semester. These loans can be a mixture of different types including federal student loans, such as Perkins, Stafford, and PLUS, or private student loans.
While it might seem complicated, it is essential to keep track of the loans you have and the total amount of debt you owe. 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.
While your school financial aid office may be able to help you with some basic facts and figures, there is another way to find out your federal student loan balance on your own.
Finding Your Student Loan Balance
While you can always access information through your My Federal Student Aid account, another route 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. It stores information so you can quickly check it whenever you need to, and it will tell you which loans are subsidized or unsubsidized. In either case, you will need an FSA ID to log in.
How NSLDS Knows Your Student Loan Balance
Information and data for the database are collected and aggregated from a variety of sources such as guaranty agencies, loan servicers, debt collection services, 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 debt you have.
Private Student Loan Balances
NSLDA does not provide information about your private student loans. This can get difficult as private lenders sometimes sell their loans to other companies. If you are not sure who your lender is for private student loans, the original lender or your financial aid office may be able to help. If not, you can still figure it out by reviewing your credit report.
Check out your annual credit report from Equifax, TransUnion or Experian which will show all of your current debts and accounts, including any and all student loans. You may have to get your credit report from more than one company to find all of your loans, though, as some lenders only report data to specific credit agencies and not all of them.
While repaying student loans can feel overwhelming sometimes, it is important to know the lender or servicer which manages each loan, and how much you owe on each one. By having a complete picture of your student loan balance, you can get your finances in order. 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.