How to Find Your Current Student Loan Balance

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Jeff White, CEPF

By Jeff White, CEPF

January 18, 2023

Americans owe a staggering amount in outstanding student debt: around $1.75 trillion collectively with an average of $37,172 per borrower. Furthermore, you’re likely to have more student debt if you have a graduate degree. However, it’s not always easy to know how much you have in student loans at any given time. Here’s how you can find your total student debt.

If you’re confused by the number of different loans you currently have then you may benefit from refinancing all of your student debt into a single loan. If you have strong credit you might even qualify for a lower interest rate, which could substantially lower your payments. Find the best refinancing company today.

Different Types of Loans You May Owe

If you’re wondering “how do I find out how much I owe in student loans?”, the first step is to check how many different loans you owe and the types of those loans. You may not be able to check your entire loan balance in one place if you borrowed different types of loans from various lenders.

There are two main types of loans you may owe:

  1. Federal student loans: These are loans provided through the federal Department of Education, and include direct subsidized loans, also known as Stafford loans, direct unsubsidized loans, and direct PLUS loans.
  2. Private student loans: These loans may be provided by various private lenders, such as banks, universities, and credit unions.

You may not be able to find all of your debt in a single place if you owe both types of loans. This is more common if you borrowed money for graduate school.

How to Find Loan Balances for Each Type of Loan

If you want to check how much student loan debt you have, or if you owe student loans at all, you’ll need to check the loan balances for each type of loan you borrowed in the past. Except for federal subsidized loans, all loans accrue interest while you’re in school, so even if you’ve only just graduated, your loan balance could already by significantly higher than the amount you originally borrowed.

Federal Student Loans Balance

The Department of Education keeps a central database of federal student debt owed, making it pretty straightforward to check how much you owe in federal student loans. All you need to do is visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Through this portal, you can check outstanding balances on any or all federal student loans you may have. You just need to have your Federal Student Aid ID handy and you can log in to access your account and review your federal student loan balances.

It can be a good idea to double-check this with your loan servicer, as the federal database is not always updated with the latest loan information. You’ll be able to find the details of your loan servicer through the same Federal Student Aid portal, including if your loan servicer has changed.

Private Student Loans Balance

When it comes to tracking down how much you have in private student loans, things get a bit more complex. There’s no central database or website that you can use to check your private loan balance, so you’ll need to check with the lender for each loan to find out how much you owe. To make things even trickier, your original lender may have outsourced your loan to another servicer or sold your debt to another company.

The first way to check your private student loan balance is to contact your original student loan lender, or lenders if you took out more than one private student loan. Contact your lenders by phone or email and ask them to verify your current outstanding loan balance.

If you can’t remember the names of your lenders, don’t know who your current loan servicer is, or are having trouble contacting them, there are a couple of other things you can do:

  • Request a free credit report from the main credit agencies Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. This will show all past and present debts you may have, including your student loans and the loan servicer for each.
  • Get in touch with your school’s financial aid office. They should be able to tell you who your current loan servicer is.

How to Find Your Loan Balance With the NSLD

The National Student Loan Database (NSLD) contains complete information on all federal student loans. You can access the information in the database via the Federal Student Aid website or through your loan servicer. This site replaced the National Student Loan Data System (NSCDS) in 2020.

Here’s how to check your loan balance on the NSLD, step by step:

  1. Look up your Federal Student Aid ID number and have it handy. This is your unique ID number for the federal student aid system that you would have created when you lodged the FAFSA.
  2. Go to the Federal Student Aid website ( and enter your ID and password.
  3. Once logged in, you’ll be able to view your balance, payment status, current loan servicer, and interest accrued on all of your federal student loans.
  4. If you think any of the information is incorrect or you simply want to check the latest details, contact your loan servicer directly. They’ll be able to give you up-to-date information on your balance, as well as all other details relating to your loan.

How Much You Really Owe on Student Loans

It’s important to know that the balance you currently owe in student debt is unlikely to be the same as the amount you’ll need to pay off across the overall life of your loans. Unless you plan to pay off all of your loans instantly, they’ll continue to accrue interest until the debt is fully paid, and you may also need to pay fees over this period.

This can mean a significant difference between what your loan balance says and how much you’ll actually need to pay in the long term. An exception may be if you have student loans with very low-interest rates.

For example, if your student debt is subject to interest rates of 3% or less, it would make sense to pay off other debt that’s subject to a higher interest rate or start saving for retirement first. Equally, if you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in the future, it could be a good idea to only make the minimum repayments on your student loans for now.

How to Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Paying off your student loans faster will not only allow you to break free from student debt quicker, but it also means you’ll pay less over the life of your loan. It can also help you to improve your credit and reduce your debt to income ratio.

Here are a few tips that can help you to pay off your student debt faster:

  • Refinance your loans: Refinancing can be an effective way to cut your interest rates and help you pay off your student debt more quickly, especially if you’re currently paying high interest. Read about the pros and cons of refinancing your student loans here.
  • Make extra payments: Obviously, the more you pay in above the minimum payments required, the faster you’ll pay off your debt. It can be hard to find extra cash to put towards your student loans, but try to make lump sum payments whenever you extra funds come in, such as a tax refund, gifts, or a bonus from work. Even small payments can make a difference, especially if you adopt this approach early.
  • Ask your employer if they offer loan assistance: Some employers include student loan repayment assistance in their benefits package – check with your HR department to see if they offer this benefit, and if so, how you can take advantage of it.
  • Apply for a career-based loan repayment program: Certain professionals, such as nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, and dentists, may qualify for career-based loan repayment programs. Under these kinds of programs, the state government or a professional association will repay part of your debt.
  • Check if you’re eligible for loan forgiveness: Your federal student loans may be eligible for forgiveness if you’ve completed a certain number of years in public service or teaching in some public schools, as well as in other specific circumstances.

The Bottom Line

Understanding how much you owe in student loans can help you to make timely payments to protect your credit and even pay off your debt faster. This can be highly beneficial in slashing the amount you pay in interest, thus reducing the total you need to pay in student debt. Remember that the longer you take to pay off your student loans, the more interest you’ll pay, and so you could end up paying much more than the amount showing on your loan balance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do student loans come off after 7 years?

Your student debt can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, even if the statute of limitations has passed. Most private student loans have a statute of limitations of around six years, while there’s no statute of limitations on federal student loans. However, you’ll still need to pay your loans back unless you’re eligible for loan forgiveness.

How long does it take to pay off a $30,000 student loan?

How long it takes you to pay off a loan will depend on a range of factors, such as the interest rate and how much you make in monthly repayments. Most federal and private loans have a 10-year repayment period, though this can be as long as 25 years. However, it’s always a good idea to pay off your loans as quickly as you can without putting yourself under financial stress, as this will reduce the amount of interest and therefore the total amount you need to pay.

You can calculate how quickly you should be able to pay off your student loans using our loan calculator.

Do student loans ever go away?

Federal student loans can be forgiven under specific circumstances, such as for public servants and certain teachers after a set number of years of service, and depending on the type of loan. If your school closed down while you were enrolled or soon after you withdrew, you may also be eligible for debt forgiveness, and similar rules apply if your school acted fraudulently.

Finally, federal loans can be discharged if the student borrower dies or experiences a severe and permanent disability, or if the parent who took out a loan for a dependent student dies.

Private loans are not eligible for forgiveness, so your best option is to pay them off as quickly as possible.

Do student loans hurt your credit score?

Like any kind of loan, the impact of your student loans on your credit score will depend on how quickly you pay them off. If you make timely payments on your student loans, this will help strengthen your credit, especially if you pay off your student debt early. On the other hand, if you default on your loans or are late with payments, this will hurt your credit.

A good place to start:

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