Most students who graduate with loans graduate with more than one. They take out small loans each year to cover tuition and other education-related expenses. By the time they’re done with school, they’re unsure about who and how much they owe. If this describes you, you’re in luck. Thanks to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) it’s not at all that difficult to find out what and who you owe.
The NSLDS website provides a centralized view of all aid - including loans, grants, and compensation for work study - disbursed under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA). For all loans, the site shows the disbursement date, repayment status, and outstanding balance as well as the loan servicer who manages the account.
Simply put, the NSLDS makes it easy to understand your loans, which is the first step to getting them under control.
Logging Into the Site
To log into the site, you’ll need only an FSA ID, a username and password combination that you create. The FSA ID is shared among a number of U.S. Department of Education websites, including FAFSA on the Web, StudentLoans.gov, StudentAid.gov, and the TEACH Grant website.
(Note that the FSA ID is different than the Federal Student Aid PIN, which was used prior to May 10, 2015. So, if you have a PIN but haven’t logged into a Department of Education web site in the recent past, you’ll probably need to go ahead and create an FSA ID.)
What You'll See When You Log In
When you log into the NSLDS site, you’ll see important details about your loans. For each loan you’ll see the loan type, the date it was disbursed, the balance, and the total outstanding interest.
By clicking on an individual loan, you’ll see a details about that loan. On this screen, you’ll find the interest rate, whether that rate is fixed or variable, and the type of repayment plan, if any, you’re currently enrolled in as well as the amount of the most recent payment and the total cumulative payments over time. Here, you’ll also see the name of the student loan servicer responsible for administering your loan.
Where Does the NSLDS Get This Info?
One thing you’ll notice is that the NSLDS has access to a lot of your personal information, and you may wonder who provides them with access to it.
Typically, the agencies that authorize aid awards are responsible for reporting all pertinent information to the NSLDS. In practice, this means that Direct loans are reported by loan servicers, Stafford loans are reported by guaranty agencies, and Perkins loans are reported by the schools.
What You Won't Find on the NSLDS Site
In some cases, you may find that your loan is not shown on the NSLDS web site.
Typically, new loans are reported to the NSLDS within about 30 days. So, loans for which you’ve applied very recently may not show up on the site.
You also won’t find PLUS loans taken out by your parents to fund your education. PLUS loans are the legal responsibility of your parents, and they will be able to view them by logging into the NSLDS site with their own FSA ID.
Additionally, the NSLDS doesn’t collect information on nursing and medical school loans. This is because the NSLDS only has information on aid issued under Title IV of the HEA and these loans are issued under Title VII.
What to Do Next
Once you’ve determined how much you owe, you’re in a much better position to formulate a strategy to eliminate your student loans.
To estimate your monthly payment, you can use our Basic Student Loan Payment Calculator. If know that you’re able to pay more, plug a number into the Student Loan Payoff Period Calculator to determine how long it will take to pay down your loan.
On the other hand, if you don’t think you’ll be able to make your monthly payments, there are options, especially when it comes to federal student loans. For instance, there are a variety of repayment options that are tied to income, with monthly payments as low as zero dollars per month.