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A simple yet important tool for every student taking out and paying back their student loans, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) can help to identify basic information about your federal loans.
This guide will help you understand what exactly the NSLDS is, how to use it, and what sort of information you’ll be able to access through the portal.
You can still check your loan information when you log into StudentAid.gov.
Here’s everything you need to know about the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS):
- What is the NSLDS?
- Who is eligible for the National Student Loan Data System
- What is an FSA ID and how do I get one?
- How does the NSLDS receive my student loan details, and which details are included?
- Exit counseling for federal student loans explained
What is the NSLDS?
The NSLDS is a database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education to aggregate loan and grant data for all students who use federal funds to pay for school — both while you’re in school and once you’re repaying your loans.
The NSLDS allows individuals who perform specific tasks to see a snapshot of all their federal loan and grant data.
Who is eligible for the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)?
Access to the NSLDS is only available to certain individuals who perform one of these jobs:
- Determining a student’s eligibility for Title IV federal student aid
- Collecting or billing on a federal student loan or grant
- Implementing the terms of a Title IV federal loan
- Sending student loan information
- Reviewing the accuracy of a student’s financial aid information
- Acquiring student loan default rate information
What is an FSA ID and how do I get one?
You’ll need your FSA ID to log into StudentAid.gov, so we’ll go over what that is and how to get one.
Your FSA ID is a username and password that controls your online access to federal student aid services, including FAFSA and StudentAid.gov. In addition to granting you access to these websites, your FSA ID can also be used to electronically sign any necessary loan paperwork.
FSA ID took the place of the Federal Student Aid PIN on May 10, 2015, so if you haven’t logged into any federal student aid websites since then, you may need to create a new ID.
You can do so here — but most people who have filled out a FAFSA recently will already have one.
The process of setting up a new FSA ID includes choosing your unique username and password, as well as providing personal details such as your name, date of birth, and social security number.
You can also provide your mobile number or email address and select a language preference, and you’ll be asked to set up some security questions in case you lose your login information.
If you’re just now setting up your FSA ID, it can take between one and three days to verify your information with the Social Security Administration, and you won’t be able to use it until then.
How does the NSLDS receive my student loan details, and which details are included?
The NSLDS receives information directly from:
- Agencies that guaranty loans
- The Direct Loan program
- Other U.S. Department of Education programs
The information available from the NSLDS includes:
- Loan type (FFEL program, Direct, Perkins, etc.)
- Original loan balance (the original amount of money you borrowed)
- Current loan balance (how much you still owe)
- Loan status (in good standing, in default, etc.)
- The holder or servicer of your loan
Exit counseling for federal student loans explained
Most students who have taken out federal student loans are required to complete exit counseling once they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. This applies to anyone who has taken out a subsidized, unsubsidized, or PLUS loan via the Direct Loan Program or the FFEL Program.
Exit counseling can help you understand how much you owe and how long it will take to pay it off, as well as explain the differences between your loan types and some basic lending terminology. It’s important to know what the benefits of consolidating your loans can be for the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.
You’ll need to log into StudentLoans.gov with your FSA ID to complete exit counseling, as well as notify your school(s) that you’ve completed counseling. Most people complete exit counseling in 20-30 minutes, so it’s not a huge time commitment, and can help to kickstart your knowledge about paying off your loans.
Napala Pratini contributed to the reporting for this article.