How Much Do I Owe In Student Loans?
If you don’t know how much exactly you owe on your student loans, you’re not alone. Throughout your college career, those small loan disbursements—whether they were paid to you or to your financial aid office—can add up quickly.
But knowing the numbers (rather than assuming the worst or hoping for the best) can help you breathe easier and pay off your debt faster. Knowing your balance will also help you determine how much your monthly payment will be if you consolidate or apply for an income-driven repayment plan.
The following information will help you learn how to check and keep track of your student loan balance, whether you’ve just graduated, you’re years into paying off your student loans, or even if you’re still finishing up school.
Check Your Federal Loan Balance Online
The National Student Loan Data System NSLDS is your new best friend if you want to keep track of how much you owe in federal student loans. The NSLDS is a central database that keeps track of all of your federal loan information so that you can access it at any time.
The NSLDS site differentiates between subsidized and unsubsidized loans so that you can tell which is which. If you’ve consolidated your loans, both your original loans and your new consolidation loan or loans will show up.
Registering Your FSA ID
To sign up and log into the NSLDS, you’ll need to enter your Federal Student Aid ID. If you haven’t registered an FSA ID yet, you’ll need a valid email address and your social security number. You will have to set up challenge questions with answers and go through a few other profile setup steps before you can access your information.
The NSLDS does not list:
- Private loan balances.
- Older loans (i.e. loans borrowed in the 1908s), even those that are still in repayment.
- Medical or nursing school loans.
Who Is My Loan Servicer?
A loan servicer acts as a third party, or middle-man, between you and your lender. The servicer manages your loan, and any payments you make go through the servicer first. You have a loan servicer whether your loan is federal or private.
It’s useful to know who your loan servicer is and how to contact them, as this is who you’ll need to contact if you want to change payment plans or apply deferment or forbearance.
Federal Loan Servicers
If you need to learn more about a loan listed on the NSLDS, or you have a loan that’s federal but not listed on the NSLDS, you can contact your loan servicer for more information.
You do not get to choose your own federal loan servicer: instead, your loan servicer was assigned to your loan by the U.S. Department of Education.
The following list shows the various loan servicers used by the Department of Education to manage federal loans, along with their contact information.
- CornerStone 1-800-663-1662
- FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) 1-800-699-2908
- Granite State – GSMR 1-888-556-0022
- Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. 1-800-236-4300
- HESC/Edfinancial 1-855-337-6884
- MOHELA 1-888-866-4352
- Navient 1-800-722-1300
- Nelnet 1-888-486-4722
- OSLA Servicing 1-866-264-976
Private Loan Servicers
Finding and contacting your private loan servicer can be more complicated. Your first step will be to check your credit reports.
Your credit report can also show you your federal loan balances, but this information is more readily available using the NSLDS website. You can also ascertain who your private student loan servicer is by looking at your most recent student loan statement. Common servicers of private student loans include Nelnet, Sallie Mae, and Navient.
Getting the Most From Your Servicer
Once you know who your servicer is—whether your loans are federal or private—you can go to your servicer’s website to create an account. There, you’ll be able to manage payments, as well as track your balance. Often, you can get a small interest rate deduction by enrolling in automatic payments, which will make repaying your loan that much easier.
Because your student loan servicer is assigned to you as a middle man, it’s important to be aware that your servicer may change, meaning your balance may be managed by multiple servicers over the course of its lifetime.
Any time you think your loan servicer may have changed, you can contact your previous loan servicer to find out, visit NSLDS, check your credit report, or check your most recent loan statement.
What If I’m Still in School?
In some instances, you may need to check your student loan balance while you’re still in school.
Current School Year
If you need to check a loan which applies to your current year, contact the student financial aid office at your school. The financial aid office can inform you about your loan status, cancellation within 120 days of disbursement, and the amount and timing of your loan disbursement.
Past School Years
If you’re still in school but you need information about a past year’s student loan, you’ll need to contact your loan servicer.
Know What Your Student Loan Balance is
If you’re not sure how much you owe in student loans, you’re not alone—far from it. Between subsidized and unsubsidized loans, private and federal, those $2,000 and $3,000 loan disbursements can add up. And while you’re in school, it’s unlikely you were keeping a record. But knowing your student loan balance is the first step to paying it off, so If you don’t know how much you owe, now is the time to use the resources provided here to find out.