You must know what type of student loan you have in order to understand your options. You can use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to find out what federal loans you have. You must have a FSA ID to access this information. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one when logging into fafsa.gov, the NSLDS system at www.nslds.ed.gov, StudentLoans.gov or at Student Aid.gov. The Department has posted answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the FSA ID system. You must create your own FSA ID.
Once you access NSLDS, the site displays information on loan and grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses, and disbursements.
You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center, 1-800-4-FED-AID, TDD 1-800-730-8913. The Center’s counselors can help you figure out what types of loans you have.
Federal loan promissory notes and applications will state the name of the federal loan program (Stafford, PLUS, Perkins, FFEL, William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, etc.) at the top of your monthly bill, and loan contract.
There is no central data base similar to NSLDS for private student loan information. You should contact your lenders or loan holders to get more information about private loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a private student loan ombudsman and an on-line student loan assistant tool. The Department of Education also has information about the differences between federal and private student loans.
Most private student loans will have a disclosure statement similar to the information that is included on mortgage loans and car loans. This is because most private loans are covered by the Truth in Lending Act while federal loans are not. Sample disclosures from the Federal Reserve Board:
You can also get information about your student loans by checking your credit report. Be aware, however, that some loans, particularly older loans, may not appear on the credit report.