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November 15, 2011

Where Are My Student Loans?

Heather's note:  My thanks to Jeff Hanson for sharing this guest post.  Jeff has a lot of fancy letters after his name, and he knows his stuff!

Obtaining Your Student Loan History by Jeffrey E. Hanson, Ph.D.

Managing repayment of your student loans will be easier if you have a complete listing of the loans you have borrowed along with information about how much you owe, terms of each loan, and who you must repay. The following information can help you create that comprehensive listing of your loans.

Federal Student Loans
You can obtain a complete listing of the following federally guaranteed student loans you have borrowed by visiting the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at www.nslds.ed.gov.

  • Federal Stafford Loan (FFELP/FDLP),
  • Federal PLUS Loan (FFELP/FDLP),
  • Federal Consolidation Loan (FFELP/FDLP), and
  • Federal Perkins Loan.

NSLDS is the central database for federal student aid administered by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes a summary listing of all the federal student loans listed above that you have borrowed including any you have already repaid. Details about each loan also are available. In the case of Stafford, PLUS and Consolidation Loans, it includes those you have borrowed from either the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or the Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP).

The data in NSLDS is updated at least once every month by the servicer of your loan(s). The servicer is the company that is managing all transactions associated with your loan(s). It may be the lender or it may be a third party that has been hired by your lender. In either case, it is always the servicer you will be dealing with when it comes to managing your loans. 

NSLDS provides information for each of your federal loans including:

  • total amount borrowed;
  • academic year (loan period) in which the loan was borrowed;
  • amount of interest that has accrued as of the date it was last reported to NSLDS;
  • total outstanding balance as of the date it was last reported to NSLDS;
  • current lender (with contact information);
  • current servicer (with contact information); 
  • current status of the loan; and
  • whether the interest rate is fixed or variable (however, it does not provide the actual interest rate; you will need to contact the current lender/servicer to obtain the current interest rate for the loan).

To obtain your loan information from the NSLDS website, go to www.nslds.ed.gov. You will need to provide:

  • your social security number,
  • first two (2) letters of your last name,
  • your date of birth, and
  • the PIN that was assigned to you by the U.S. Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA.

If you do not know your PIN, there is a process that allows you to obtain a duplicate or new PIN at: www.pin.ed.gov. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-4FED-AID to request that a copy of your loan history be mailed to you. 

Once you have printed out your loan summary and details from NSLDS, you can use that information as needed in managing repayment. Note that you may want to revisit the site from time to time if you need updated information and are unsure about whom to contact regarding any of your loans. Just remember that the information listed here is advisory and not real-time.

The Other Student Loans (Institutional/Private)
What about private student loans you have borrowed—where can you find information about them? These loans are not included in the NSLDS database. However, they likely will be reported to at least one of the three national consumer-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). So you should be able to find some limited information about them on your credit report including a phone number you can call to talk with the lender/servicer of the loan.

All consumers now are entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each of the three national consumer-reporting agencies once every 12 months as a result of provisions in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003. For your free copy, go to: www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This web portal was created by the three national agencies in response to the FACT Act requirement. 

Jeffrey E. Hanson, Ph.D. is founder and president of Jeffrey Hanson Education Services, a company providing financial literacy, borrower education and debt management programming and services. He has over 22 years of experience helping students understand how they can fund their education and has worked as a financial aid administrator and as the director of borrower education for a student loan provider.

By Heather | Category: Student Debt, Student Loan Repayment  
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