By this point, you probably realize that I hate debt. And while student loans helped me fund my education, which got my job, they’re still debt. But here’s the thing about them: you might not know where they are. When I graduated college, I was lucky. My loans were only in three places and my mother is an amazing records keeper. I was able to quickly find them and start paying them down when I got my first post-college job. But a lot of people aren’t that lucky. Some have loans in four or five places, plus private loans.
The good news is, there are ways to figure this out. The government set up the National Student Loan Data System just for this purpose. They knew exactly how difficult it was to deal with them so they tried to make it a bit easier. You log into this site and are able to find all your loans, who is servicing them, and how to reach them. You’ll need a PIN (found here, it’s not hard to get one and you might already have one) so it could be a little easier but hey, at least they put all the loans in one place.
The great thing about this is that you can find ALL your federal loans. If you’re on a PLUS loan, you can find the information. The downside here is that there is no information about private loans. Obviously, the government doesn’t have anything to do with those. Which means if you have them, you’re probably not too happy with the interest rate.
Don’t worry, you can find those too. It’ll require another step though. You see, once a year you’re entitled to your credit report, courtesy of TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. The government made it law that they have to give it to you, free of charge, once every 365 days. If you have private loans, they’ll be on your credit with all the information you need to find your servicer and argue with them for a few hours about how criminal their interest rates are.
Between these two sites, you should be able to get a good count of your loans, payment dates and payment amounts. Tracking these loans and making your payments on time will be key to getting rid of them before you turn 40. So take a look and figure out how much you own! It’s going to be a big deal.
Additionally, if you’re still a student, you should take a look at this. Student Loan interest rates are set to double in the next year on all new debt issued. Write your congressmen, your senators, your representatives, whomever you think can help. Going from 3.40% to 6.80% is going to cost you and the rest of the students thousands of dollars each. The purpose of federal student loans isn’t to make money for the government but to make education more affordable to every citizen. So if you can, write and make sure that they know to do their job.
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