To say college tuition is costly is one big understatement for sure – 2016 graduates who took out student loans will leave school with a record average of $37172, in debt.
When faced with a loan balance that high, you’d think preparing to pay it off would be the first thing on most students’ minds (next to final exams and landing a job). Not so: Fifteen percent of graduates in a recent survey by Citizens Bank indicated that they had no clue what their student loan balance is. And 37 percent reported being totally unaware of their loan interest rates.
If you’re part of these statistics, it’s okay to admit that you haven’t given much thought to your loans. But they need to become a priority now, since staying in the dark won’t make them go away (if anything, you’ll end up with even more debt). Figuring out what you owe can get you started down the right repayment path.
Know what you owe: how to check student loan balance
1. Find your federal student loan balance
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the main source for finding out everything you need to know about your federal student loans and how much you may owe on them.
The Department of Education-sponsored database gives borrowers a comprehensive view of each piece of financial aid they have. You’ll see an itemization of all your federal loans, the outstanding balance owed, interest rate, your payment plans and loan servicers, along with other loan status and enrollment information.This goes for any outstanding graduate loans in your name, too.
You’ll need to create and enter a Federal Student Aid ID to log in and use the site.
You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID. A counselor should be able to help you figure out what loans you have if you’re having trouble with the database.
2. Track down what you owe in private loans
Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop spot for private loans equivalent to the NSLDS. Here, you’ll need to do some detective work to tally up the different loans in your name and the balances on each.
One of the best ways to confirm your private loans (and other forms of credit, such as credit cards, auto loans, etc.) is by obtaining your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You can get these reports once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com.
Keep in mind, your credit reports won’t list your loan balances, but they will give you the names of your private loan servicers, who you can contact directly for information. You might also try the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for assistance from a private student loan ombudsman.
3. Go back to school
No, you won’t have to go back to class (unless you’re still enrolled). But if you hit any roadblocks – or simply want to double check your loan information – you should check in with your alma mater’s financial aid office. They may have extensive info at hand on your federal and private loans, who’s servicing them, and even the total balances.
4. Contact debt collectors
Hopefully, your student loans haven’t been put on the back burner so long that they’ve already been sent into collections. But if that has happened, the time is now to get on track.
Debt collectors want you to pay what you owe, so contacting them for info on your outstanding balance is something they’ll be happy to provide. It could help avoid spiraling into debt and wrecking your credit.
Ultimately, the most important step you must take in verifying your student loans is to contact your loan provider(s) directly, since the NSLDS, your school’s financial aid administrator, and/or your credit report may contain outdated data. Once you know who you owe, make a plan to tackle that debt.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|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 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
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.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|