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How to Keep Track of Your Student Loans

By Julia Califano · January 02, 2023 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Keep Track of Your Student Loans

Nearly two-thirds of students graduate college with some debt. The average student loan debt, including federal and private loans, is $37,338. The key to paying down that debt quickly is to stay organized. If you have a mix of federal and private loans (with different payment plans, interest rates, and due dates), however, that’s easier said than done.

Unfortunately, lenders are not very forgiving. One late payment can tarnish your credit history. Before you get into any trouble, it is a good idea to put together a system and a plan for making payments and keeping track of your loans. The following tips and strategies can help.

Understanding Your Student Loans

If you’re like many borrowers, you may have a combination of different types of student loans. Each type has different benefits and features, so it’s important to differentiate between federal and private student loans, and to take note of each loan’s amount, interest rate, and payment requirements.

If you’re not sure what type of federal student loans you have, you can log on to StudentAid.gov and select “My Aid” in the dropdown menu under your name. There you can find:

•   Your student loan amounts and balances

•   Your loan servicer(s) and their contact information

•   Your interest rates

•   Your current loan status (e.g., repayment, in default, etc.)

The government’s database won’t tell you about private loans, though. For that, you can get details from the bank or lender where you obtained the loan. If you completely lost track of what private loans you have, you can check your credit report. You can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? You could save thousands.

Understand Loan Repayment Options

Federal student loans offer multiple payment options. If you don’t choose a specific plan, you’ll automatically be placed on the 10-year standard repayment plan, which can be a good choice if you’re looking to save on interest. Other options include the Extended Payment Plan and Graduated Repayment Plan.

If you want low monthly payments and student loan forgiveness, you might want to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. With these plans, your payment amount is a percentage of your discretionary income (typically 10% to 20%). After making payments for 20 or 25 years, any remaining loan balance is forgiven.

Private student loans generally offer less flexibility, but you likely had a choice of a few different repayment plans when you initially borrowed the loan. Typically, lenders will let you choose a loan term between five and 20 years when you first sign for a student loan.

Organizing Your Loan Information

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your student loans, these tips can help you get organized and make the repayment process simpler and less stressful.

Gather Your Documents

An important first step toward keeping track of your student loans is to gather all of your documents and keep them in one place (such as a three-ring binder or file folders). These documents may include:

•   Financial aid award letters

•   Promissory notes (legal contracts detailing the terms that you received when you originally signed for your student loans)

•   Disclosure documents (which include information about rates, fees, disbursement dates, and amounts)

•   Monthly billing statements and emails from your loan servicers
As any mail comes in regarding your loans, be sure to add it to your binder or file system.

Create a Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet allows you to have all of the details of your student loans summarized in one place. You could use something like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, or just a regular computer document. Details you may want to include in your master spreadsheet:

•   Name of the federal loan and whether it is subsidized or unsubsidized

•   Name of the private lender (if applicable)

•   Name and contact details of the lender or loan servicer

•   Total amount borrowed

•   Term of the loan

•   Interest rate (this can help you decide which loans you should pay off first)

•   Payment due date

•   Current loan balance (this will go down as you update your spreadsheet)

With all your loan details in one place, you’ll likely find it easier to stay on top of your student loans. It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes every month to update the columns to reflect the latest status of every loan.

Recommended: Tips to Lower Your Student Loan Payments

Sign Up for Autopay

If you have a job with a steady income, you may want to set up autopay for all of your loan payments. Since your payments will be automatically taken from your bank account, you won’t have to worry about missing a payment or getting hit with a late fee. Plus, you’ll receive a 0.25% interest rate deduction on your federal loans. Many private lenders will also lower your interest rate by .25% to .50% when you enroll in autopay. This can add up to substantial savings over the life of your loan.

You’ll want to be careful, however, that you have sufficient funds in your bank account. If you don’t, you will have to manually adjust your payment amount accordingly.

Organize Your Login Details

Organizing your login details for each student loan website can save you a lot of time and frustration in the coming years. It also makes it quick and easy to check in on your loans and track your repayment progress.

You can go old school and simply write down all of your usernames and passwords on a piece of paper and store the document in a secure place. Or, you might choose to go more high-tech and use a password manager app or website (such as Dashlane or 1Password) or a built-in manager like Apple’s Keychain. This can save you the headache of repeatedly trying — and failing — to access your accounts.

Utilize Online Tools and Apps

There are free websites and online student loan trackers that can help you stay on top of your student loans. There are also apps that specialize in managing and paying off loans easily. Some you might want to check out:

•   Undebt.it This free app can help you eliminate all debt, not just student loans. Once you enter your loan information, you can see how quickly you can pay them off using the debt snowball strategy, as well as the amount that you’ll save on interest over the life of each loan.

•   Debt Payoff Assistant This free iPhone app lets you view all of your debts in one place. Simply enter your loan information and the dashboard will break down your different types of debts and your total amount of debt. You can then use the app to see how much you’ll save using the debt snowball payoff method.

•   Changed You link your credit or debit card to the app and every time you make a purchase, the app rounds it up to the nearest dollar and puts the change into your Changed account. Once you reach a certain threshold, that money gets deposited to your student loan provider. The app also offers a dashboard that lets you see all your loans in one place. (There is a $3/month fee.)

Recommended: 6 Strategies to Pay off Student Loans Quickly

Simplify Your Loans by Refinancing

When you refinance your student loans, you combine your federal and/or private loans into one private loan with a single monthly payment. This can simplify repayment and might be a smart move if your credit score and income can qualify you for lower interest rates.

With a refinance, you can also change your repayment terms. You might choose a shorter term to pay off your student loans faster. Or, you might go with a longer repayment term to lower your monthly payments (note: you may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term).

If you’re considering a refinance, keep in mind that refinancing federal loans with a private lender disqualifies you from government benefits and protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and generous forbearance and deferment programs.


💡 Quick Tip: It might be beneficial to look for a refinancing lender that offers extras. SoFi members, for instance, can qualify for rate discounts and have access to financial advisors, networking events, and more — at no extra cost.

The Takeaway

When it comes to paying off your student loans, knowledge is power. So a great first step is to take inventory of all the loans you have, noting the loan amounts, interest rates, payment amounts, and due dates. Other ways to stay organized include: storing all of your loan paperwork and mail in one place, creating a master student loan spreadsheet, and using technology (like apps and loan platforms) to help you track your progress and pay off your loans faster.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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