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Updated on Friday, June 5, 2015
Congratulations, you graduated college. Whether you graduated Summa Cum Laude or with the minimum GPA allowed by the university, well done either way you are a college graduate. As you begin to look for your first job, you start to realize that the student loans you took out to pay for tuition, room and board, spring break to Cabo, and the bar tabs throughout the years of school are coming due. The problem is you have no idea where they all are, the only memory you have of student loans is signing some piece of paper and picking up a check with your name on it on each semester. The bad news is, these student loans are not going away, the good news is we are going to help you find your student loans right now.
First off we need to know if you have a federal student loan or a private student loan. If you are not sure it’s a safe bet to start looking first for your Federal Student loan. If you are 100% sure you have a private loan and do not have any federal student loans to speak of, scroll down to the bottom of the article under Private Student Loan to find out more. If you have both Federal and Private student loans, I suggest you read the whole thing, I think you are going to need it.
Federal Student Loan
Start by going to the National Student Loan Data System, this can be found at https://www.nslds.ed.gov. This is a great resource and has all of your federal loans in one place. The federal government wants to know how much is owed so the website is all in order and relatively easy to use. According to the website, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. NSLDS Student Access provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data.
Once at the website select the Financial Aid Review button to see what loans are currently outstanding.
To do this you will need a Federal Student Aid or FSA username and password. This FSA ID will give you access to a number of different government websites including the following:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.gov
- The National Student Loan Data System at www.nslds.ed.gov
- StudentLoans.gov at www.studentloans.gov
- Agreement to Serve (ATS) at www.teach-ats.ed.gov
- My Federal Student Aid at StudentAid.gov/log-in
At this point in the process of finding your student loans you will need to create a FSA ID, it’s pretty simple and only requires a few items of personal information including your:
- Social Security number
- Date of Birth
- First Name, Middle Initial, and Last Name
After this information is confirmed, you will be asked to enter your PIN, if you do not want to link your PIN to your FSA ID, then select CONTINUE WITHOUT PIN. However according to the NSLDS Frequently Asked Questions:
Only PINs with a verified match with the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be allowed to associate their PIN with their FSA ID. By associating a verified PIN with your FSA ID, you do not have to go through the SSA match, which can take up to 1-3 days.
If you have a PIN, but it was not verified (meaning SSA did not have a good match), then you cannot associate that PIN with your FSA ID and your identifiers will be sent to SSA for verification.
You will have limited access to certain applications until your information is verified with the SSA.
Once we complete verification with the SSA (1-3 days), you will be able to use your FSA ID to access your personal information on Federal Student Aid websites.
NSLDS also gives an option to select Forgot Pin, this will bring you to a *Pin Challenge Question. While this information may not seem familiar, you most likely have entered this information while filling out your FAFSA application. Once this challenge question is answered correctly the FSA ID application will continue allowing you to create a username and password.
Next up in the FSA ID application is 5 Challenge Questions and Answers that you will create to protect your account for extra security. The last two steps in the FSA ID application require you to verify and accept your information as correct, following this you will need to complete the email verification process by entering the secure code into the Secure Code field on your web page.
Congratulations, not only did you graduate college, you also set up a FSA ID to look at all of your student loans that you are going to pay back ASAP!
Once logged in you will be able to see the Aid Summary, which provides all the details you could have ever asked for including the:
- Type of Loan
- Loan Amount
- Loan Date
- Disbursed Amount
- Canceled Amount
- Outstanding Principal
- Outstanding Interest
Each loan provides a hyperlink with more individual details for each loan including: Amounts and Dates, Disbursements and Dates, and Servicer/Lender/Guaranty Agency/ED Servicer Information, which is all the information you will need to get started making payments. All of your federal student loans will be in one place. Now you just have to figure out a way to pay them all.
Private Student Loans
The problem that you will run into with private student loans is it’s more difficult to find out the loan servicer. The federal student loans have a national website dedicated to them, private student loans will need a little more hunting and gathering.
The first place you can start is with your financial aid office at your college or university, they may be able to lead you in the right direction. Although if you have attended another university during your college career it might be a little more difficult going with this strategy.
The best way to find your student loan servicer is through your credit report. The credit report will have any outstanding debt under your Social Security number, which will include private and federal student loans.
The best thing you can do is check your credit reports at all three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus once every 12 months, through www.annualcreditreport.com. This will not provide you with your credit score, but it will show you the information needed to find your private student loan provider and more.
Congratulations are in order if you followed the steps outlined here because you are on your way to locating your student loans and will be paying them off in no time. Good luck!
Interested in refinancing your student loans? Check out our comparison table.