When it comes to paying back your student loans, a little organization can go a long way. Yet, the system doesn’t always work in your favor. Students often graduate with multiple loans from multiple lenders, all with different interest rates.
Having all of your loan information in one place will not only help you keep on top of your payments but also to weigh repayment strategies that include things like income-driven plans and refinancing. That’s where our Excel-based Student Loan Payment Tracker spreadsheet comes in.
Getting Organized: Where to Find Your Loan Information
The first thing you’ll want to do is to gather some basic information about your loans, including the lender, total balance, and interest rate for each one. Fortunately, this process is relatively straightforward.
To locate your federal student loans, visit the NSLDS web site. There you’ll find a complete list of all of your Title IV (federal) loans. Private loans, at least those taken out in your name, will show on your credit report, which can be accessed free of charge via annualcreditreport.com or Credit Karma, among other services.
How to Use This Spreadsheet
To get started, enter the info for each of your loans on the Student Loan Summary tab. For each loan, you have the option to enter the following data points:
- Company / Servicer
- Federal / Private
- Loan Status
- Loan Amount
- Interest Rate
- Fixed / Variable Rate
- Payment Due Date
The additional tabs are set up so that you can track the details - such as payments and outstanding balance - for individual loans. If you have more loans than there are tabs, simply right click on an existing tab, select Move or Copy from the menu, and ensure the Create a Copy box is checked. Then click OK.
Other Tools and When to Use Them
This spreadsheet is a pretty basic tool - it’s set up to help you track your student loan payments, but it’s not designed to do much more. To see how long it will take to repay your loans or decide whether an income-based repayment plan is right for you, you may want to check out some of the other resources on the site.
Simplifying Student Loan Repayment
If you have student loans, chances are you already spend too much time worrying about them. Fortunately, there are a few simple measures you can take to make things easier on yourself:
1. Synchronize your payments
If you have multiple loans, keeping track of due dates can be a headache, especially if you’re also juggling other bills. Synchronizing your due dates so that all of them occur on the same day can help. To start, pick a day (perhaps the day after you get paid) that would be convenient for you. Then call each servicer to see if they’re able to adjust your due date. Most servicers will accommodate you.
2. Sign up for auto-pay
If your income is sufficient to comfortably cover your monthly payments as well as your other expenses, you should consider enrolling in auto-pay. By setting up payments to automatically debit from your account, you’ll ensure that you never forget to pay on time, which can damage your credit and result in late fees. And, as an added bonus, most lenders offer an interest rate discount of at least 0.25 percent for borrowers who enroll in auto-pay. The larger your loan balance, the greater the potential savings.