When you graduate from college, you generally have just six precious months to enjoy before your grace period ends and your first student loan payment is due.
And if you’re like most students, you probably borrowed more than one student loan to pay for college. The average student takes out 3.7 loans, according to a 2017 report from Experian. Each loan might have its own interest rate and loan servicer, and you’ll have to juggle several different monthly payments.
With these multiple accounts, it’s easy to get confused about how much you owe in total. But finding an answer to, “How much do I owe in student loans?” is fundamental to tackling your debt.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some tips for tracking down the answers that you need.
How much do I owe in student loans?
What you originally borrowed to pay for school is likely not what you owe now. Unfortunately, you probably owe more.
Unless you have federal subsidized loans, your balances likely grew over the years due to interest. Depending on your rate, you could end up owing hundreds or even thousands of dollars more after graduation than what you originally borrowed.
To find out what you owe with the accrued interest, try out some of the following tools for tracking your federal and private student loans.
How to find the balance on your federal student loans
Figuring out how much you owe in federal loans is relatively easy. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), a database managed by the Department of Education, shows you how much you owe in federal student aid.
It also tells you who your loan servicer is now. Servicers sometimes transfer loans to other companies, so it’s possible to end up with a different servicer than the one you had when you took out the loan.
The NSLDS collects data from schools, guarantee agencies, loan programs and other Department of Education entities so that students can easily access their loan information. You can use the NSLDS to find information about your loan’s original amount, current balance, loan servicer, interest and payment status.
Once you log in, the database will list your loans and loan servicers. Keep in mind that the numbers might not be completely accurate, as the listed balances can be up to 120 days old.
It’s a good idea to use the NSLDS to identify your loan servicers and then follow up with those servicers directly to find out the current balance on your loans.
3 limitations of the NSLDS
Although the NSLDS does answer the question, “How much do I owe in student loans?” the answer might not be a complete one. Here are three limitations of the NSLDS to keep in mind:
- It lists only some of your loans: It reports data about your federal student loans only. The NSLDS does not collect information about private student loans.
- It does not list old loans: The NSLDS doesn’t have data on older loans — for example, ones borrowed in the 1980s. If you have loans that are from that time frame but are still in repayment, you’ll have to locate them by looking at your credit report.
- It does not list medical or nursing school loans: The NSLDS only reports data on Title IV-eligible loans. Medical and nursing school loans do not fit into that category.
If you have older loans or medical school loans, contact your lender or loan servicer to check your student loan balance. And if you’ve got private student debt, read on to learn how to find those.
Checking the balance on your private student loans
Retrieving balances on private loans is a little trickier than finding information on federal loans. There’s no national database for private student loans like there is for federal loans. Also, the financial institution that originally issued the loan might outsource the loan servicing elsewhere or sell your loans to a different entity.
However, there are other ways to find your private loan balances:
- Ask your original lender (if your loan has changed servicers): Your original lender is always the best place to begin this search. Hopefully, you’ve kept your original loan documents with the lender’s contact information. One phone call should help you find out which company currently owns your loan.
- Ask your school for help: If you’re having trouble tracking down your loans, talk to your university’s financial aid office. They can help you identify who currently manages your debt.
- Check your credit report: Credit reports list all of your current and past credit obligations, including student loans. It will list the amount you borrowed and the loan servicer, which you can then contact to find the status of your account or to make payments. You can get a free credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
By doing a little detective work, you should be able to find out how much you owe on your private student loans and where to send your monthly payments.
5 ways to pay off student loans faster
Once you figure out how much you owe, you can come up with a strategy to pay off your loans. Depending on your finances, you might be able to accelerate repayment and save money by doing one or more of the following:
- Use windfalls to pay down debt: If your budget is tight and there isn’t much left over for extra payments, you can still repay your loans more quickly by taking advantage of any windfalls. If you receive a raise, bonus, tax refund or a check for your birthday, use that money to make a lump sum payment on your loan balance. Those extra payments can add up and help you eliminate your loans ahead of schedule.
- Pick up a side hustle: For those who need more breathing room in their budget, launching a side hustle can be a great way to earn extra money for debt repayment during your spare time.
- Check with your employer for loan assistance: Some employers often student loan repayment assistance as part of their benefits package. Ask your human resources department if your company has that perk.
- Set up automatic payments: Setting up autopay can help prevent missed payments, and it also can reduce how much you pay in interest. Some lenders offer a 0.25-percentage-point discount on your interest rate if you sign up for automatic payments.
- Consider refinancing: If you have high-interest loans, refinancing your student debt may help you lower your interest rate and save money. You’ll lose out on some loan benefits if you refinance federal debt, but doing so can ensure more of your money goes toward paying down the principal rather than interest charges.
Find the best strategy for managing your student loans
Navigating the student loan system is complex and sometimes confusing. But now that you know where to find out how much you in student loans, it should be a little easier.
Not only can you use the resources listed above to check your student loan balances, but you can also learn details about your interest rate, monthly payment, repayment term and loan servicer.
After gathering all this important information, shift your focus to coming up with a strategy for repayment. A good place to start is with these student loan payment calculators. By crunching the numbers, you can come up with a plan for conquering your debt, and you might even find a way to pay it off ahead of schedule.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.54% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.54% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.67% – 8.96%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.23% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.43%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|