As the largest lender of student loans in the United States, the federal government is responsible for tracking over a trillion dollars in student debt.
The government maintains records of when the loan was issued, the type of loan that was issued, the original balance, the current balance, interest rates, and the servicer assigned to the management of the loan.
For borrowers, these records are incredibly useful. Verifying servicer information is a great way to reduce fraud and to make sure that no loan gets lost in the shuffle.
In the past, the Department of Education maintained the National Student Loan Data System or NSLDS. The site wasn’t particularly fancy, but it made tracking down federal records incredibly easy. Sadly, the NSLDS was discontinued, and borrowers must now navigate the StudentAid.gov website to find loan records.
Locating Detailed Federal Student Loan Information
- Step 1: Visit https://studentaid.gov
- Step 2: Log in using your FSA ID
- Most borrowers should have an FSA ID if they have recently completed the FAFSA or recently applied for an Income-Driven Repayment plan.
- Those that need to create an FSA ID can do it here.
- Use this page if you have forgotten your login credentials.
- When you successfully log in, you will be taken to the federal dashboard.
- Step 3: From the Federal Dashboard, click on the View Details link
- The View Details link will take borrowers to an Aid Summary
- The Aid Summary should include all federal loans and federal grants awarded.
- Step 4: From the Aid Summy Click on View Breakdown
- Step 5: For each servicer, click on View Loan Details
- At this point, the individual loan details should appear.
- This will show the loan status, the current repayment plan, interest rate, and total balance.
- At this point, the individual loan details should appear.
- Step 6: For even more information, click on View Loan Details
- This page contains records of the loan status history, payments made towards PSLF, and the total payments that have been made to date on the loan.
- The next link at the bottom of the page allows borrowers to review each loan individually.
Things to Keep in Mind about the Federal Database
The federal database contains a trove of information for borrowers, but it isn’t perfect.
There are a couple of major limitations that users should understand.
The information is only as good as the last time it was updated – Like most databases, it isn’t instantly updated. Payments made to servicers will not immediately be reflected in the loan information. The servicer first has to report the information back to the Department of Education so that the student aid website can be updated. As a result, the information could be a month behind.
No records of private loans – Having all student loans in the same place would be very useful, but the government only tracks federal student loans. Borrowers addressing their private student loans will have to track down the records using alternative means. College financial aid websites can be a helpful starting point, and credit reports can be used to fill in missing details.
What Happened to the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System)?
The NSLDS was a fairly straightforward, no-nonsense way for borrowers to access federal student loan records. The NSLDS wasn’t pretty, but it was a valuable tool for borrowers.
Many in the student loan community were surprised when the Department of Education unexpectedly took down the NSLDS and offered no explanation.
What we do know for sure was that the NSLDS was an older website that contained vast amounts of confidential material. Securing this information may have necessitated a massive change to the existing system.
Additionally, the revamped studentaid.gov is arguably more helpful to student loan borrowers. Even though navigating to the full student loan records is a bit more tedious, the benefit is that most federal student loan resources can now be found in one place. Borrowers looking for loan information can easily navigate to options for repayment and applications for income-driven repayment. Valuable resources like the Federal Loan Simulator, the PSLF Help Tool, and a Loan Consolidation link are all in one place.
From a web design standpoint, the new system is decidedly more modern looking. The updated interface should make navigation easier for borrowers and appear more credible. The old NSLDS was so dated that it appeared to be sketchy, especially to a first time visitor.
The Best Uses for the Federal Student Loan Information
Most borrowers should be able to get basic questions answered from the revised studentaid.gov site.
These records can be especially valuable for the following uses:
Tracking down debt – Different lending programs and new loans each year can mean that borrowers have a dozen or more different federal student loans. When a borrower enters repayment, they may have one servicer, or they could have several. The best way for a borrower to ensure that they are making payments on all of their federal loans is to pull up a list of all of their loans and get contact information for the servicers that have been assigned.
Preventing Fraud – Avoiding student loan fraud has become increasingly difficult for borrowers. As the government changes servicers, borrowers have come to expect that servicer assignments occasionally change. When a company like Experian has a data breach, would-be scammers can gain access to borrower names, contact information, and loan balances. If a student loan bill appears from a new company, the federal records are the best way to verify that the bill is legitimate.
Planning Strategy – Which loan do I pay off first? Should I be paying down debt or saving for retirement? How long will it take to eliminate my student debt? Should I consider student loan refinancing? What repayment plan is best for my situation?
Many student loan questions can be tough to answer. Without detailed records, borrowers risk mistakes and missed opportunities.
17 thoughts on “How to Find the Database with Complete Federal Student Loan Records”
I am a former Suny NYS community college graduate who has recently obtained a detailed copy of my student aid report, and when reviewing found major discrepancies within this report from unpaid grants to loans that not only originated but disbursed on the same day. While I attend 2 community college prior to graduating, it is the college that I graduated from that is using retention schedules as a means to prevent me from accessing my financial aid and billing records. I have contacted any and every government associated entity in regard to this and am continuously reverted back to the campus. Though reaching out to the campus compliance officer got me nowhere, as she has not responded to a single email, and has went as far as forwarding my request for her assistance to someone else. I have spoken to my NYS open access who has advised me along with the department of education of my rights to obtain these records, however, do you have any suggestions as to how a student like me would navigate themselves around such obstacles. The majority of my student loans stem from this campus and I am having trouble understanding why I am being blocked.
This sounds super frustrating. The first thing I usually tell people is that there probably isn’t some vast conspiracy behind what is happening to you. Often these frustrating situations are the result of incompetence or bureaucracy. Sometimes approaching it from this angle can lead to a quicker resolution.
For example, instead of spelling out the entire situation when you speak with someone, target getting one additional nugget of information. If you pull your student loan and grant records from the federal database, you can try to match that up with the school records. This is something your school’s financial aid office should be able to help with. If the dates don’t match up, or you can’t find anything, try not to immediately jump to an accusation. Come at it from the perspective that you are just trying to understand.
It sucks that you are running into all of these road blocks and I’m sure you are angry with the people standing in your way, but sadly, the fastest resolution may require you to play nice with them while you get the info you need.
If your inquiries are all unsuccessful, you could consider filing a complaint with the Department of Education.
I am paying for my daughters student FFELP student loan thru Navient since 2007.Is that consider a private loan and will I will be included under President Biden 10,000 loan cancellation?I am now 66 years old ,a retiree.
FFELP loans are federal loans, but they are not necessarily federally-held.
The debt will almost certainly be eligible for the $10,000 of forgiveness, but there might be a few hoops to jump through. Right now we are awaiting full details.
Update 9/8/22: Here are the latest details on how they are handling FFEL loans.
I’m not necessarily interested in my student loan history, I was able to pull all of that from the site above as you say. However, I do want to track exactly how much I’ve paid, and there seems to be NOWHERE where I can find that. I’ve had loans since 1993 (!!!), I’ve estimated that I’ve paid well beyond the original balances of the loans, but because they were owned by private lenders the interest has crushed me. Is there a way to find PAYMENT information, not balances, not loan history, but payment history?
Have you spoken to the loan servicers who handled the loans during that time?
Also, an item that might be of interest to you, given your long payment history, is the IDR payment count update.
I am having this same issue. I have been paying students loans since 1998. In 2011 I consolidated with Great Lakes. They only have the consolidated info. They said to contact Navient, my provider before consolidation. Navient said Advantage has that info now and they don’t. I called Advantage and they say Great Lakes should have it. Federal Student Aid shows Navient, but no loan details. It just says the loans were consolidated. What a mess!
At least it’s semi-encouraging to see that others are having the same issues as myself re: tracking down older payments, and Thank You for help to address this issue.
I did read the article and tried the StudentAid.gov site.
There is a gap between 2007 and 2011/2012 where I cannot track payments made. They were consolidated into different loans, so hard to track? I also wanted to say I contacted my current servicer Fed Loan Servicing, and they said they “ordered a copy” of my payment record that is stored on microfiche or something? And will take a month, but I should get the missing info. that way? Hope this helps, as when my (PSLF) waiver form gets processed, I want some hard data on what payments they are accepting, and which not. Otherwise we are at their mercy?
Consolidation can make tracking down records even more difficult. As for why it takes a month to “order a copy,” your guess is as good as any. In FedLoan’s defense, I will say that they are swamped right now. Getting any help is likely to take a while.
Best of luck to you!
I am beyond frustrated. I took out undergraduate loans from 1987-1990 (3 years- accelerated), then law school loans from 1994-1996 (2 years accelerated). I know I made payments on my loans after undergrad. I called and got records from my loan servicers. I know the records are incomplete. It appears that when my servicer was the Department of Education (I believe it was Navient/Sallie Mae who handled it), the payments are not all listed. I know that there were payments made because I remember being behind on them and having to straighten it out and pay so I could go to law school. (I was making payments- just not the full amount because I had a minimum wage job).
I want to try to get my payment records and went to the student loan site. It provides only loan status history- no payment information. I borrowed a total of $76,725 and have been paying on them since 1991 (minus 2 years in law school). I now owe $195,681.
Any advice on getting records of the payments? I believe my dad made some of them for me so bank records are out (He wanted me to go to law school).
I share your frustration with how scattered and incomplete the repayment records are.
I’d suggest reading this recent article on the IDR payment count update. The new policy could be very valuable to you, and the last section includes steps on tracking down loan status history. Hopefully it will help in your situation.
I am having the same issue with tracking down older payments. I graduated in May of ’08, so technically my payments should have started 6 months after that time. Looking at my credit report, I cannot find anything earlier than EdFinancial from when I consolidated in 2011, yet even those payments are not showing up through FedLoan Servicing either. So, somehow I am missing from roughly October of 2008-April of 2011, and then two additional years after that. Where would I find this information? Should this not be on record with Dept. of Ed? I have no idea who the loan servicer was prior to consolidation. It may have still been EdFinancial, but when I go to that site, all history has been wiped.
I believe it is the loan servicer’s job to report that information to the Department of Education. If you click on the individual loan, you can look at the loan status history… what does it say for the missing dates?
I am trying to track down my payments going back to 1998. I can only get an accounting of back to 2005 on the Student Aid website. How can I find older payments? I need to see whether I got credit for payments on the IDR plan, forbearance / deferment info, etc. and Navient does not appear to have any of that.
Do you remember who your servicer was before Navient? It might be worthwhile to try that route.
I am looking for a way to track payments. My student loans started in 1987 and to date the balance is 222,000.00 I am a public school teacher of 21 years. I am desperate for a count of payments made and cannot seem to find them. I paid a fraudulent company in 2015/2016…. Ameritech and made some 20+ payments, before they were shut down by the Federal Trade Commission. I wanted to pay my loans and the payment was manageable. Will those payments, that were done in good faith, be counted. I was able to track 37 payments by searching old bank statements. Any help would be appreciated.
Dealing with fraud can be especially tricky. If you paid Ameritech, but no PSLF eligible payments were made, I think you are going to have a hard time getting that to count towards PSLF.
Beyond the records described in this article, you might also want to reach out to your loan servicer to go through your payment history. They should have all of these records as well.