Whether you are in the midst of your college career, just graduated or have been out of school for a while, knowing the most up-to-date information on the total amount of student loans you borrowed and how much you now owe is important for many reasons.
Knowing your student loan balances and payment obligations — such as due dates and the minimum amount due every month — will play a big part in your overall financial wellness. For example, it is important to understand that the loan amounts originally borrowed are likely not the same amount owed over time due to the type, length and terms of your loans, particularly federal student loans where unpaid interest accrued and was added to the principal, called capitalization.
For recent graduates, depending on your specific financial situation, knowing current information about grace period policies gives you time to develop an overall financial plan that works for your budget. For borrowers who are several years out of school and into a career, keeping documentation about each student loan’s balance and repayment schedule can help you manage monthly payments along with other debt and expenses.
Additionally, getting a clear understanding of the makeup of your student loan portfolio is beneficial if you have taken out a mix of federal student loans and private student loans through the years.
For borrowers looking to keep track of how much they owe and who to contact about their student loan balances, as well as other critical information, here are some helpful resources.
Where to Find How Much You Owe in Federal Student Loans
For federal student loans, the best place for borrowers to start is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System, or NSLDS. Once you create a Federal Student Aid ID — or log in using your existing FSA ID — you get secure access to this national database of information about federal student loans and grants awarded to you under Title IV of the federal Higher Education Act.
Due to the sensitivity of personal information on the site, keep your username and password in a safe location, such as a secure password file.
The NSLDS centralized listing is a one-stop resource for the complete life cycle of all federal student loans you took out, from approval through disbursement, repayment, deferment, delinquency and payoff, when applicable.
The portal will display how much you borrowed, the type of each loan and interest rate, payment history and the current servicer or holder for each loan, meaning the company that currently administers your account and receives your payments. The database also provides information about any federal grants you received while in school.
The system receives data from schools, agencies that guarantee the loans, the federal direct loan program and other Department of Education programs.
Where to Find Out What You Owe in Private Student Loans
While there is no centralized website for private student loan information, there are resources that can help these borrowers understand how much they owe.
Start with your credit report, which tracks current and past credit obligations including private and federal student loans. At AnnualCreditReport.com, you can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each report will list the amounts you borrowed and the loan servicers or holders, as well as your credit score calculated by that bureau.
Additionally, borrowers should be able to get the balance information on private student loans directly from the specific lender, even if the loan has changed owners.
It’s a good idea to assemble your original loan documents and the original lender’s contact information to begin the search for private student loan balances and their current loan holders.
You can also track your student loans by reaching out to your college, university or other institution you attended. Contact the financial aid office for the records they have on file related to your student loan debt. Start by having the office look up your account information, including all the loans that were processed in your name.
As you conduct your research, be sure to track each loan’s most recent loan servicer or holder. You might have some digging to do to obtain full contact information. Servicers for federal student loans commonly change between the time a loan is disbursed and when you start repayment and may change at any time during the life of your loan, which can also happen with private student loans.
Knowing the details about current loan servicers or holders and their customer service teams helps set you up for successful student loan repayment.
If you work through these suggestions and it’s still tough to understand and cope with your full student loan debt picture, consider reaching out to a nonprofit student loan counseling organization. Counselors can offer specific advice about how to obtain updated documentation on your total student debt and ways to make it more manageable if you begin to struggle making payments.
More from U.S. News