Graduating from college means you can finally enjoy building a career and reap the financial rewards, right? Unfortunately, many individuals find they struggle to pay off their debts and manage their financial responsibilities.
A report from CNBC states that 40% of borrowers will default on their student loans by 2023, and student debt is as high as $1.5 trillion. Luckily, you can use the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) to manage your financial obligations.
What is The National Student Loan Database System?
The National Student Loan Data System is a simple way to view your student loans and debts. It provides students with an overview of how much they’re borrowing and what they’ll owe when they repay the loans. Accessing your personal information is easy and you can do it through the nslds.ed.gov website. They also offer resources for financial aid review as well as student loan exit counseling.
In addition, the NSLDS Student Access provides an integrated view of Title IV loans so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access information about their Title IV loans data.
When you view your loans, you can check the status of each one. In some cases, you may have obtained a grant to make paying off the loan easier or be in your grace period. The central database also shows which loans you’re repaying and if you’re meeting your repayment plan schedule.
While you can view most student loans, the NSLDS doesn’t show Parent Plus loans, so it’s important to remember this if you’re using the system to calculate the overall amount you owe. You also can’t see your private student loans on the database, but most federal loans are accessible through the website.
Our step-by-step guide will help you learn how to use the National Student Loan Database System to manage your loans.
Step 1: Login to the System With Your FSA ID
If you want to access your loan information, you’ll need to login to the system with an FSA ID. Each student has a unique username and password which provides access to Student Loans, FAFSA and NSLDS. You can also use your FSA ID to sign your loan paperwork electronically, so it’s an easy way to manage your finances.
Before 2015, students could access their information with a unique pin number, but the FSA ID replaced this, so if you don’t have one you need to apply for one. If you’ve filled out a Federal Student Aid application, then you should have an ID already. You can apply for one here. You can also create your FSA ID by clicking the “create an FSA ID” tab on the NSLDS login page. For step-by-step instructions on creating an FSA ID, watch this video.
Setting up an FSA ID takes between one to three days and you’ll need to provide your social security number, name, and date of birth. The username and password you use are up to you, so make sure you choose something memorable as you’ll be accessing financial information.
Once you have your FSA ID, you can log in. Before you can move on, however, you’ll need to accept their disclaimer. Take the time and read through it carefully so you’re not missing any details.
Step 2: Look at Your Loan Paperwork to See Which Loans Are Federal
Student loans are usually paid each semester, and it’s common for people to take out several loans during their education period. You can easily lose track of your loans and before you view your outstanding payments, make sure you check your private loans.
The NSLDS for students in receipt of federal loans and it doesn’t show any information about private loans. We recommend calculating the amount you owe from private loans before accessing the system. This way you’ll know how much you owe overall and you can use the system to make choices based on the total amount.
Step 3: Look at the Information Available to You
The National Student Loan Database is a comprehensive system, which automatically receives information from a variety of organizations, including:
- The Direct Loan Program
- US Department of Education Programs
- Schools’ Financial Aid Offices
- Agencies that guarantee student loans
You can also see important information, such as which loan you’ve received, the original loan amount, how much you still owe and the status of your loan. There are a multitude of loan providers in the US, which help people to pay for college. The most important thing to remember is to keep track of your loans.
Life can be hectic, and it’s easy to lose track of your loans. You should look at your original loan amount and assess how much you owe. Some people choose to consolidate their student loans into one easy payment and using the NSLDS can help you evaluate whether there are better ways to manage your finances.
Review Your Providers
As we already mentioned, it’s likely you have loans from numerous providers. Each provider will have their own set of rules on repayments, but you can check the provider for each loan using the system.
Each loan displayed has a section that lists the loan servicer or holder. Common loan providers include:
- Great Lakes Loans
- FedLoan Servicing
- OSLA Servicing
If you’re defaulting on your repayments, you’ll see a notice from The Debt Management and Collections System. If you owe money, you should contact the appropriate organization to arrange a repayment schedule. Click here to access a list of useful debt management contact details.
Step 4: Check For SULA Eligibility
Some of your loans might be listed as SULA eligible, which means a subsidized usage limit applies. In 2013, the government implemented SULA to make sure students that receive direct subsidized loans don’t have the benefits indefinitely.
The new limit caps the time you can receive interest benefits to 150% of your education period. This means you can only take advantage of SULA for a set period, but the system will tell you when your eligibility ends.
Step 5: Download Your Information
For a convenient overview of relevant information regarding all your loans, download and save your MyStudentData file. There is a large blue button on the home page that allows you to do this. For all of your loans within the NSLDS, it includes the following information:
- Loan amount
- Loan date
- Disbursed amount
- Canceled amount
- Outstanding principal
- Outstanding interest
It also tells you how much you owe in subsidized and unsubsidized amounts, and if you’ve consolidated anything. At the bottom, it gives you a grand total of everything you owe, broken down into principal amounts and interest.
In addition to this overview of your loans, it has a similar section to see your grant information. It’s a smaller, simpler table with four sections:
- Award year
- Type of grant
- Disbursement amount
Downloading this file is a quick and easy way to get an overall look at your loans and their details, as well as remember where your grants came from. It also gives you access to the information offline as it will be downloaded to your computer. This means you won’t have to login every time you want to have a quick look. However, you will have to re-download it as you make payments towards the loans as the numbers will need to be updated.
In order to complete the download, you’ll have to click confirm after reading a short warning about protecting the sensitive information within the file and instructions on removing the file if you’re using a public computer.
Important Things to Consider
If you take out a federal student loan, it’s likely you’ll be asked to take part in exit counseling once you graduate, drop out of school or decrease your enrollment to below half-time. Remember, dropping out of college doesn’t mean you’re exempt from paying back your student loans.
You should still apply for an FSA ID if you drop out of college and keep on top of your repayment obligations. Click here to find out more about exit counseling and what it involves. For additional assistance with accessing the system, check out this quick video.
The site is accessible 24/7, or you can call their helpline Monday-Friday between 8 am-10 pm EST.
Does Your Employer Offer Repayment Benefits?
Employers recognize the impact student loans have on their employees and many are turning to experts such as FutureFuel.io to provide holistic solutions to address student loan debt. You should speak to your employer to find out what help is available to you and use the information when checking your loan repayments on the NSLDS.
Have You Refinanced Your Loans?
When you refinance a student loan, the lender you choose pays off the remaining amount. This means that your outstanding payments won’t show up on the system, so it’s essential you factor in these payments when calculating how much you owe.
The National Student Loan Database System is an excellent way to evaluate your loans and work out how much you owe. If you don’t keep track of your outstanding payments, there could be severe implications. Now you know how to use the NSLDS, you can take advantage of the free system and stay on top of your finances.