Your one-stop-shop for managing your federal student aid is StudentLoans.Gov. This site is the Federal Student Aid website of the Department of Education (DOE) and the epicenter of all things related to servicing your federal student loans.
Who Should Use StudentLoans.gov?
The DOE runs the website StudentLoans.gov in order to help two groups of borrowers:
- Graduates who are out of school and in the process of repaying their debt
- People who are looking to obtain new loans, which can include students currently enrolled and their parents
How Do I Get Started on StudentLoans.gov?
The first thing you need is an FSA ID in order to log in to the site. You can follow these steps in order to obtain one:
- Create a FSA ID from https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm.
- Verify that you are at least 13 years old.
- Create a unique username and password, and provide your email address. The FSA ID is your electronic signature for when you apply for financial aid and sign loan promissory notes and other legal documents.
- Provide your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and contact information, and answers to the challenge questions.
- Review your information before accepting the terms and conditions on the site.
- Check the email account that was used to create your FSA ID. You’ll receive a secure code so verify your email on the site and can choose to use your email address moving forward rather than your username.
The FSA ID may be used to file a FAFSA right away. There may be a delay of a few days before the FSA ID can be used to login to the other U.S. Department of Education websites. Make sure you know the FAFSA deadlines.
4 Reasons You Should Use StudentLoans.gov
You can do several different things on StudentLoans.gov. Here’s what you can do and how to do it.
You Can Apply for Loan Consolidation
If you want to consolidate your federal loans into one loan, you can do this at StudentLoans.gov. It takes about 30-60 minutes to complete the application to consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan. In order to fill out the application, you’ll need:
- FSA ID
- Personal information
- Details of your loans, including:
- Loan type
- Full name and
- Loan type
- Full name and mailing address of the loan holder or the servicer
- Account number (found on your statement)
- Estimated amount needed to pay off the loan
The loans will be consolidated by the tool to show your new balance and interest rate. The rate is calculated from an average of your previous loans with a slight round-up. You can delay your loans until your grace period ends and can also delay your consolidation anywhere from one to 9 months.
When your application is finished, you can select the servicer of your loan. You can choose Nelnet, Navient, FedLoan Servicing or Great Lakes Educational Services. It’s a good idea to do research on each servicer and find out other student’s experiences with them so you can make an informed decision.
Your Parents Can Apply for a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students Loan
Parents will find StudentLoans.gov useful because they need to access the site in order to apply for a PLUS Loan. This is a 20-minute process and the school will ultimately determine the application decision.
The Direct PLUS Loan Application is supplemental information required for your application for a Direct PLUS Loan through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The information that you submit will be sent to the school you select and they will use the information to determine your eligibility.
Before you can receive your loan, you need to complete a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note which explains all of the terms and conditions related to your loan. This is a legally binding agreement to repay your loans.
When you complete the application, you can:
- Tell the school to use loan funds for expenses beyond tuition and other fees
- Decide who gets the balance of the loan credit (if any remains)
- Request a deferment while your child is enrolled in school
- Request an additional six-month deferment after you child graduates
You will need an FSA ID, all of your child’s information, and your employer’s information to complete the PLUS Loan application.
You Can Conduct Mandatory Counseling
Undergraduate, graduate and professional students and their parents can use the site to conduct entrance and exit counseling. This is meant for people who have never borrowed federal finances before or for those who are about to leave school.
Another suggested resource is Finance Awareness Counseling, which provides tools and information to help you understand your loans and how to manage your finances.
You can complete it online within 20 to 30 minutes. Some of the topics include:
- Understand Your Loans
- Manage Your Spending
- Plan to Repay
- Avoid Default
- Make Finances a Priority
Applicants for PLUS Loans who have poor credit can attend PLUS Credit Counseling, which also takes only 20 to 30 minutes.
StudentLoans.gov is also the place to complete your master promissory note (MPN), which is a legal document that states your promise to repay your loans. The MPN also explains the terms and conditions of your loan. The MPN enables you to receive federal loans for 10 years and takes about a half hour to complete.
You Can Choose an Income-Driven Repayment Plan
StudentLoans.Gov has a Repayment Estimator that lets you add all of your loans and your annual income to get an estimate of your monthly payments and total amounts paid on the loans. You’ll also receive a list of repayment plans that you’re eligible for. This is helpful if you’re looking to switch to an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan and want to complete an IDR application.
The Basics of IDR
The federal government has four IDR plans that serve to limit your monthly payment to a percentage of your income.It takes about 10 minutes to complete the application. You can find which plan is right for you from the following:
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) — generally your repayments are 10% of your discretionary income if you’re a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount; and generally 15% if you’re not a new borrower.
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) — your payment is the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or what you would repay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over the course of 12 years, adjusted according to your income.
- Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) – generally 10% of your income.
- Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE) – generally 10% of your discretionary income, but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount
Your payments will be affected not only by your income, but also by your family size. If you file a joint tax return, then your payment may be determined by your combined income. That’s why IDR applications needs to be cosigned by your spouse, which you can also do on StudentLoans.gov. Your spouse isn’t promising to repay the loan, though, they are simply entering a Social Security number and information to complete the IDR request.
You’ll also receive information about Projected Loan Forgiveness, which means that under an IDR plan you may have the remaining balance of your loan forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.
For Current IDR Borrowers
StudentLoans.gov is the resource where you can:
- Request a reduction in your monthly payment due to income or family size change
- Switch to a different IDR plan
- Provide your updated income and family size so you can recertify your IDR plan
You’ll need to recertify your loans annually and can request a lower payment or different plan at any time. You information needs to be current in the system and the website will prompt you to update it if it’s not.
How to Get Help on StudentLoans.gov
StudentLoans.gov is a useful tool when you’re in need of some direction and answers to questions about your federal student loans. It can direct you to the correct places for certain answers, such as:
Contact Your Financial Aid Office about:
- Loan Status
- Loan Cancellation
- Loan Disbursement Amounts and Dates
Contact Your Loan Servicer About:
- Loan Balance
- Loan Repayment
The site also has a Forms Center where you can download any forms you need, including loans for repayment, deferment, forbearance, discharge and forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation. You can also speak with someone through the live chat function or call the number at 1-800-557-7394. Their FAQ page is also comprehensive and has answers to lots of the answers.
StudentLoans.gov can be a great resource for you to take a proactive step in managing your loans by educating yourself and finding a repayment plan that works for you. Having everything in one place makes it easy to get the answers you need so you can confidently and comfortably repay your loans.