So, you’re finally ready to get a handle on your student loans. But, where do you start? Finding out who owns your loans, how much you actually owe, and what type of loans you have can get complicated. Thankfully, sites like the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) make finding this information easy. We’ll break down how to use the NSLDS and why you should use it below.
What is the National Student Loan Data System?
The NSLDS is the U.S. Department of Education’s central data hub for your student lending information. This database pulls data from colleges, U.S. Department of Education programs, and federal loan programs. It gives you, the borrower, a complete look at all of the federal student loans you have borrowed and grants that you have received. Questions about outstanding balances or interest rates? You’ll find your answers on the NSLDS.
How Do I Access the NSLDS?
Visit nslds.ed.gov to start using the National Student Loan Data System. Click on the Financial Aid Review link to access your personal loan information. Then, you need to accept the terms before proceeding to the login screen. Accessing your personal data requires you to login with your FSA ID. Your FSA ID is the same login information that you use when you file the FAFSA. Can’t remember your FSA ID? That’s okay. The NSLDS site has a forgot my username and forgot my password option.
Once you get logged in, you’ll see a chart with information about your loans and grants. Click on each loan or grant to learn more specifics. If you want to keep a copy for your records, you can download your student loan data directly from the NSLDS. Just click on the blue MyStudentData Download button.
What Can I Do with the NSLDS?
Simply put, with the NSLDS, you can access all of the information you need regarding your federal student aid. This includes disbursement dates, outstanding balances, loan status, and more. You can use all of this information to make smarter decisions when it comes to paying down or refinancing your student loans.
Here are four crucial things you can find while browsing through the National Student Loan Data System:
Total Loan Balance
How much do you actually owe in federal student loans? Find out using the NSLDS. Knowing the whole amount can help you figure out a plan of attack when it comes to paying off your loan balances. Remember, the faster you pay down your balance, the less money you’ll owe in the end.
The loan servicer takes over your loans from the United States government. You make your monthly student loan payments directly to the servicer. Given that fact, it’s pretty important that you know who services your loan. On the Financial Aid Review page, you can click on each of your federal loans to see the servicer’s name and contact information. Make note that your loans might not all have the same servicer.
Have a question about your account? Need help making payments online? Contact your loan servicer(s) directly.
Loan Type and Status
Every loan has a type and a status. The type tells you whether the loan is subsidized or unsubsidized, as well as what type of federal student loans you have. The status tells you what’s happening with the loan. The most common statuses are IA and RP.
Loans are in IA status as soon as they’re disbursed and while you’re still in school. Next, they move to IG status during your six-month-long grace period following graduation. Then, your loans enter into RP or in repayment status and stay there until they’re paid in full (PF). Other popular status types include RF (refinanced), DA (deferred), and DI (disability).
A loan’s type and status tell you a few things like whether you need to start making payments or whether or not interest has started to accumulate. This information can help you make decisions about repaying your loans. Check out these examples to see how:
|How NSLDS Can Help You Make Decisions|
Mary has taken out two federal loans to pay for her freshman year of college. Loan 1 is a subsidized loan with a status of IA while Loan 2 is an unsubsidized loan with a status of IA.
Eddie, a recent graduate, logs on and sees that one of his loans is unsubsidized and in IG status. The status indicates that he’s in his grace period and doesn’t have to start making payments yet. The status and type together tell him that his loan is accruing interest. He’s going to start paying down that interest now to save himself some money in the long run.
Example 2: Eddie, a recent graduate, logs on and sees that one of his loans is unsubsidized and in IG status. The status indicates that he’s in his grace period and doesn’t have to start making payments yet. The status and type together tell him that his loan is accruing interest. He’s going to start paying down that interest now to save himself some money in the long run.
If you’re serious about repaying your student loan debt, you need to take interest rates seriously. On the Financial Aid Review page, you can see the interest rate associated with each federal loan. The loan with the highest interest rate accrues money the fastest. Determine which of your loans has the highest interest rate and focus any extra payments on that loan. This strategy will save you a lot of money.
You can also use each loan’s interest rate information to calculate your loan portfolio’s weighted average interest rate. A weighted average interest rate is just the overall interest rate for your entire loan portfolio. Calculating this number can help you evaluate refinancing or consolidation options.
What Else Can I Find on the NSLDS Website?
On the NSLDS homepage, you can do more than just review your federal student loan and grant portfolio. You can also find helpful information on other parts of the site:
- Enrollment: Here, you can view your enrollment status, including college name, degree program, and start date. This is handy if you need to put a college start date on a scholarship or job application.
- Subsidized Usage: Subsidized loans from the government come with the best perks. That’s why there’s a limit as to how much you can borrow. Use this page to see how long your remaining eligibility period is.
- Exit Counseling: If you borrow from the federal government or receive a TEACH grant, you MUST complete exit counseling. The NSLDS site will get you to the correct loan exit counseling websites.
- Glossary of Terms: Do federal loan terms confuse you? The NSLDS has a handy glossary that defines all of the major terms used on your Financial Aid Review. Keep it open as you view your lending portfolio.
- FAQs: Find answers to your most pressing questions on the FAQs page. You’ll find more than 40 common questions and their answers. Use this info to help you get the most out of the National Student Loan Data System website.
Where Can I Find Information about My Private Loans?
The NSLDS only tracks federal student aid. Contact your private lender(s) directly for information about your private student loans. Interest rates, disbursement dates, monthly payment amounts, and term-length are all important numbers for you to ask about. Your college’s financial aid department will have this information too.