When I graduated from college, I had no idea how to find out how much student loan debt I had. I knew that all of my small $2,000 and $3,000 loans that I took out here and there added up to something, but I wasn’t sure exactly how much.
In my case, I called my financial aid office and pulled my credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com to get the exact amount of money I owed on my student loans.
But since then I’ve learned there is a far better way to find out how much student loan debt you are in. It’s called the National Student Loan Data System, or NSLDS.
The NSLDS is a central database that keeps track of how much federal student loan debt a student has. It stores all of your information so you can access it at any time. It also breaks down the type of loan you have so you can differentiate between subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
If this sounds like you, know you’re not alone. However, it’s now time to find out that number because knowing how many student loans you have is just the first step to getting out of student loan debt. You have to know your debt number before you make a plan to get out of it as soon as possible.
Here’s more on how the NSLDS works and how you can access this database to look up your student loans.
How Does the NSLDS Get My Student Loan Information?
Colleges and universities across the country send in your information to the NSLDS. The NSLDS will show each loan you took out including the date you took out it and the amount. If you consolidated or paid off a loan, you will see $0 underneath the outstanding principal amount.
I consolidated my loans after I graduated, and I can see each loan that I took out and the new consolidated loans that are two larger amounts, around $16,000 each respectively. You can see my totals in the screenshot below, as well as the $0 amount on the loans that were consolidated.
As you can see, once you are logged in to the NSLDS, you can get a picture of your total amount of federal student loans. The information in the NSLDS is considered accurate so you should be able to determine your total debt load to the dollar amount.
Below is what the home page of the website looks like so you can make sure you are in the right place. Since you have to enter your social security number to get access to your information, it’s important you find the correct site. Make sure your URL ends in .gov to double check that you’re in the right location.
What Do I Need to Sign Up?
If you’ve never logged in before, the process is really simple. I logged in for the first time in a long time to write this article, and it only took me a few minutes to get access to my student loan information.
You will need a valid e-mail address, your social security number, and you will need to set up challenge questions (which you will use if you ever forget your username or password in the future.)
To log in for the first time, click “Financial Aid Review” on the home page.
When you get to the login screen, click the tab that says “Create An FSA ID.”
Once you do this, you will have to follow a few steps before you can get access to your information. Once you have access, you can log in as many times as you want to continually check in on your student loan amounts.
You should use the NSLDS to get an accurate picture of your student loan debt. When you start paying them off, log in frequently to see your balance drop. This is a good place to visit to keep you motivated and show how much more you have to go before you pay off your debt.
Ultimately, as I said previously, the first step when paying off any type of debt is just to know how much is there. Trust me, I know it’s not fun to look at the amounts. I don’t like seeing my $32,000 balance at all. However, I know that knowledge is power and now that I accurately know how much I have to pay back, I’m one step closer to accomplishing my goal of being debt free.
Once you find your federal student loans, you can use Student Loan Hero to track your loans as you work to pay them off.
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