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 knowing your student loan balance, so you can answer “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, what is my student loan balance?
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 student loan 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 your student loan balance, it should be a little easier.
Not only can you use the resources listed above to check the balance of your student loan, 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 8 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 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 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% 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 December 13, 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 12/13/2019. 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 our student 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.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Figure.
Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.
4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Disclosures
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.
6 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.
7 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 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.
8 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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
|1.99% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.31% – 7.36%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.06% – 6.81%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.62% – 6.12%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.65%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.06%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.85% – 6.13%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 8.59%8||Undergrad & Graduate|