Knowing your student loan balance is a crucial part of properly managing and paying off your student loans. Your student loan balance consists of your principal loan amount and the interest that has accrued over the life of the loan.
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.
Finding how much you owe in student loans
Finding your student loan balance is important for a few reasons.
First, because of interest, your current student loan balance may be higher than when you originally took out your loans if you’re just starting to make payments. Knowing your current balance (including interest) helps you shape your budget and determine whether you still have a good rate.
It’s also possible that your lender — the company that distributes and processes your loans — has transferred or sold your loans to another lender. Keeping up with your student loan information helps you know where to send payments.
Ways to check your federal student loan balance
When it comes to your federal student loans, you have options when it comes to checking your balance.
The National Student Loan Data System
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a database that is available through the Federal Student Aid website. It shows your federal student loan balance and will tell you who your servicer is. It will also show you all of the financial aid you’ve been granted.
Here’s how you can check your balance using the NSLDS:
- Sign in to your Federal Student Aid account using your FSA ID, or create an ID if you don’t already have one.
- Access your dashboard to see your current balance, your original principal amount, your interest rate, your current status and your loan servicer.
- Begin making payments online.
Borrowers can have multiple loans with multiple lenders, so the Federal Student Aid website is a good central location, says Tobin Van Ostern, co-founder at Savi Solutions PBC. However, if you need more detailed information on your loans — such as your payment history, connected direct withdrawal bank accounts and more — you’ll want to visit each individual servicer website, he advises.
Your school’s financial aid office
You can also check your federal loan balance through your school’s financial aid office if you can’t find your balance on NSLDS. They can give you the information you need to start making payments, like your loan balance and who your servicer is.
Checking your private student loan balance
Your private student loan balance won’t show up in the NSLDS, since private student loans are not administered by the government, but by private lenders.
Finding your student loan balance or lender
Private student loan borrowers do not have as many options for viewing their balance, says Van Ostern. The easiest way to do this 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.
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, Van Ostern says.
The bottom line
The process of checking your student loan balance can seem overwhelming, but once you know who your lender is, you can start making payments. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to paying down your balance, using a student loan calculator will help you determine what your monthly payment will be and how long it will take you to pay off your loans.