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To stay on top of your student loan payments, you need to know how much you owe. Your student loan balance is made up of your principal loan amount and unpaid interest. There are a few different ways to access your student loan balance and additional financial aid information depending on what type of student loan you have.
There are a few ways to access your student loan amount and any additional financial aid information that you might need. Here’s what you need to know about checking your student loan balance and how the process differs between federal and private loans.
How to check your federal student loan balance
When it comes to your federal student loans, there are three primary ways to check your balance.
The Federal Student Aid website
The easiest way to check your federal student loan balance is to log in to the Federal Student Aid website. This website contains all relevant information about your federal student loans, including who your servicers are and how much you owe.
To check your balance, you’ll need to log in using your FSA ID. If you don’t have an FSA ID yet, you can create one on the website. Once you’re logged in, you can access your dashboard to see your current balance, original principal amount and interest rate.
Borrowers can have multiple loans with multiple lenders, so the Federal Student Aid website is a good central location. However, if you need more detailed information on your loans — such as seeing your payment history and connecting your withdrawal bank accounts. You can see what your servicer offers on its website.
Your school’s financial aid office
You can also check your federal loan balance through your school’s financial aid office. They can give you the information you need to start making payments, like your loan balance and who your servicer is.
The myStudentAid app
The U.S. Department of Education’s app, myStudentAid, is available for both iOS and Android. With the app, you can view your loan information, track your repayment progress and apply for additional aid.
How to check your private student loan balance
Your private student loan balance won’t show up on the Federal Student Aid website, since private student loans are not administered by the government, but by private lenders. The easiest way to check your private loan balance is to log in to your lender website or app, where you should be able to see all of the details of your loan. If you’re not sure who your lender is, you can also check your credit report to gain access to all of the loans that are issued in your name. You can currently access each of your credit reports for free, weekly, through AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you do decide to check your credit report, keep in mind that the credit report won’t note any deferment, forbearance or hardship payment options, and it could be a few months behind in showing the total balance due.
Your college’s financial aid administrator may also be able to tell you about any private student loans you borrowed since most private student loans are school-certified.
Why did my student loan balance go to zero?
If you log into your student loan account to find a balance of zero, you may feel a sense of relief. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your loans are gone. There are a few reasons your account may unexpectedly list a balance of zero:
- You got a new loan servicer. It’s common for loan servicers to change, so your account may be zero with your old servicer if your loan amount was transferred to another servicer. You should receive communication from your servicer in advance of such a transition.
- You qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Student loan borrowers relying on PSLF have experienced a lot of trouble when applying for loan forgiveness, and the U.S. Department of Education has been trying to fix that. If you previously applied for forgiveness and were rejected, your application may have gotten a second look and been approved. You should receive an approval letter if this is the case.
- You’ve completed another loan forgiveness program. PSLF isn’t the only federal student loan forgiveness program. You may also be eligible for forgiveness programs such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Closed School Discharge or total and permanent disability discharge. If you apply for one of these and are approved, your student loan balance could go to zero.
- Your student loan was forgiven or canceled. In January 2022, the student loan servicer Navient agreed to forgive $1.7 billion in student loan debt. Your loan could have been part of this forgiven debt or a similar lawsuit. Contact your servicer if you have a zero account balance and think this may have happened to you.
Ways to pay down your student loan balance
Knowing your student loan balance can help you make a plan to pay off your student loans. Try out these methods to pay down your student loan balance:
- Take advantage of 0 percent interest. Federal student loan payment requirements are paused with 0 percent interest until 60 days after June 30th, 2023, or 60 days after the Supreme Court makes a decision about Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, whichever comes first. If you’re not currently pursuing a loan forgiveness program, it could make sense to make small payments on your loans while interest is not accruing.
- Set up autopay. If you set up automatic payments on your student loan account, you won’t miss a payment, and you might get a discount on your interest rate.
- Participate in AmeriCorps or military service. Those who complete a year of AmeriCorps service are eligible for the Segal Education Award to help pay off federal student loans. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces may also be eligible for lower interest rates on student loans and special forgiveness programs.
- Make biweekly payments. While not everyone can afford to pay more than their minimum student loan payments, making biweekly payments instead of monthly can help you chip away at your balance faster. Making 26 half-payments on your loans throughout the year means that you end up making one extra full payment.
- Use an income-driven repayment plan. Federal student loans are eligible for income-driven repayment plans where you make monthly payments based on your income. After a certain number of payments or a certain amount of time, your remaining student loan balance will be forgiven. These plans won’t help you pay off your loans faster, but the lower monthly payments can make repayment more manageable.
- Consider refinancing. Refinancing student loans with a private lender can open up lower interest rates or lower monthly payments. While it’s not always wise to refinance federal student loans, it’s a good option for easing the repayment of private student loans.