You’ve left college and are now the proud owner of student loans. Unfortunately, student loans don’t come with an owner’s manual – so you might be feeling kind of clueless about what comes next.
You might be asking yourself some questions. What’s the easiest way to manage my student loans? How can can I find, view, track, and ultimately pay off my student loans?
These are common questions recent graduates have about their student loans. Luckily, we’re here to help at Student Loan Hero – and we even have tools for all that.
4 ways to find my student loans
Many students take out a student loan or two each semester while they’re in school. That means you will likely have several student loans by the time you leave school.
However, transitioning from college to the real world can be a busy and chaotic process. Between applying for jobs, starting a career, or moving to a new city, it can be all too easy to lose track of student loans.
Here’s how you can locate your student loans and make sure you’ve found them all.
1. Contact the financial aid office
Before you leave college, reach out to your financial aid office. It can give you a report of the federal student loans you borrowed there since it is in charge of disbursing those loans to students.
However, keep in mind that if you attended multiple schools and transferred, your financial aid office might not have records of loans you borrowed at other colleges.
You should also make sure the financial aid office has the most up-to-date contact information for you (including a non-student email address).
2. Pay attention to notifications from servicers
Closely watch your email and mail for notifications from student loan servicers. They will reach out to you with updates.
For instance, they should contact you to let you know when your post-college student loan grace period is up and when you should begin making payments.
If you lose track of even one student loan, it could go into default – which can add big fees to your student loan debt and destroy your credit.
3. Get an NSLDS financial aid review
The National Student Loan Data System, or NSLDS, is the database the Department of Education uses to keep track of all federal student loans. Any federal student loans you took out in college will be in this database.
As a student loan borrower, you can use the NSLDS to get a complete list of your student debt – also known as a financial aid review. It lists every federal student loan you borrowed in college as well as the following information:
- Current balance and interest rate of each loan.
- Status of each loan, including whether it is current or overdue on payments.
- Type of student loan, such as subsidized or unsubsidized.
- Student loan servicer that holds each loan.
To get your financial aid review, you’ll need to use (or get) your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and PIN and log in to the NSLDS. From there, you can request your financial aid review. For more in-depth information, use our guide to finding student loans with the NSLDS.
4. Review free annual credit reports
The NSLDS is the best way to see all your federal student loans, but it won’t list any private student debt you might have. To see these student loans, you can request your free annual credit report.
Your credit report will include the following information:
- All the student loans you have, including both private and federal student loans.
- The lender or student loan servicer that holds each loan. You should also be able to see if a student loan was transferred or sold to a new servicer.
- The student loan’s initial balance and most recent balance.
- Payment history, including any missed payments and the date of the most recent payment on the loan.
While a credit report will likely list all your student loans, there are no guarantees. You might want to pull reports from all three major bureaus to be sure no loans are missed.
Managing student loans in repayment
Although finding all your student loans may take only a few days, repaying them may take 10 years or longer. How can you track and manage your student loans in the meantime?
Take advantage of the Student Loan Hero dashboard
Well, that’s where the Student Loan Hero dashboard can help – and it’s 100 percent free. This tool puts all your student loans in one place so you can easily view and track your progress.
Here are some important features:
- Import and sync all your student loans within the Student Loan Hero dashboard. You can sync all federal student loans from the NSLDS system and many private lenders as well.
- View all student loans in one place. You can log in and see all your student loans at once – even those with different servicers. And you can view private student loans alongside federal student loans.
- Track your student debt progress in real time. The Student Loan Hero dashboard automatically updates student loan balances each month, giving you an up-to-date view of your progress.
- Calculate different repayment actions. This tool includes several calculators that show you how different actions might affect your loans. You can use this tool to see how much you can save if you make extra student loan payments, refinance student loans, and more. You also can figure out what payments you need to make each month to be debt-free by a particular date.
- Explore federal student loan repayment options. This tool allows you to see how consolidation, income-driven repayment, or other federal student loan options might affect your debt. You can even check if you’re eligible for different repayment plans or forgiveness.
- Apply for consolidation of your federal student loans. We will help you see what your loans will be like if you consolidate. And if you decide to do so, you can use our tool to quickly fill out and submit an application to consolidate federal student loans.
The Student Loan Hero dashboard is a robust tool. You can start using it to explore different student loan strategies. And you can continue using it to track your progress and keep an eye on your student loan accounts.
Figure out your own student loan needs and goals
Ultimately, finding a repayment plan that works for you depends on your financial situation and your repayment personality.
That’s why it’s important to figure out your student loan needs and goals. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to pay off my debt as quickly as possible?
- Are there other financial goals I should put before student loan repayment?
- Are my student loan payments affordable right now?
- Can I refinance my student loans to lower my interest rate?
For example, if you work in public service and don’t make much money, you might want to pursue the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Or if you make a decent income and can afford to pay extra on student loans, you might be more focused on paying them off.
Explore different student loan strategies
As you think through your loans, income, and other financial factors, you can identify the plan of attack that best fits your situation. You can use the Student Loan Hero dashboard or student loan calculators to explore different possibilities and compare outcomes.
The nice thing about these features is they take the focus off doing math and place it on creating a strategy that works for you.
With so much information out there and so many decisions to make, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Don’t let fear about your student loan situation paralyze you and prevent you from making decisions that will make your life easier in the long run.
With a little bit of ingenuity, hard work, and help from Student Loan Hero, your student loans can be conquered!
Haven’t signed up for a free Student Loan Hero account yet? Click here to get started.
Or click here to sign in if you already have an account.
Honey Smith contributed to this article.
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