How Do I Know if My Student Loans are Federal?

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Stanley Tate

#1 Student Loan Lawyer

Updated on October 6, 2022

Check studentaid.gov to find out if your student loans are federal.

Most student loans are federal student loans — about 92% of the $1.75 trillion owed at the end of last year, according to researchers at the Education Data Initiative.

Despite that market share dominance, it’s easy for borrowers to get confused about the type of loans they have — especially when federal loans received different benefits throughout the pandemic.

Ahead, learn how to find out if you have federal student loans.

Check the Federal Student Aid site, studentaid.gov

Studentaid.gov has information on all the federal student loans and grants you’ve received. Any loan listed on that website would be a federal student loan — even if a bank made it.

If you have a student loan listed on your credit report that doesn’t show up on studentaid.gov, it is likely a private student loan.

You can access the site using your FSA ID. Once logged in, you’ll be able to see your balance, status, and servicer(s). You’ll also be able to explore student loan repayment options and check your eligibility for forgiveness programs.

If you have trouble logging in, you can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243. Ask a customer service representative to check the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to see if you have federal loans.

Learn More: How Do Student Loans Work

Two types of federal student loans

Most federal student loans were paused during the pandemic. If you’ve had to make payments, you might be surprised to find your loan listed on studentaid.gov.

You had to keep making your monthly payment because you’re one of 6 million people whose loans were made under a federal program that the Obama administration phased out.

For decades, federal student loans were insured by the government but made by banks and other financial institutions. In 2010, Congress replaced it with a system in which the Education Department created loans (i.e., the Direct Loan Program). During the Great Recession, the government bought some, but not all, of the loans it insured.

Now, there are two groups of federal loans:

  • Student loans that are owned directly by the U.S. Department of Education, e.g., Federal Direct Loans.

  • Student loans that are owned by a guaranty agency and insured by the federal government, e.g., Federal Family Education Loans, Stafford Loans, etc.

The first group has had their interest rate set to 0% and payments frozen through September 1, 2022. They’ve also received credit towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment plan forgiveness.

The second group, borrowers with FFEL Loans, didn’t get these benefits. They had to continue making payments even as COVID-19 rocked the country because their loans were owned by a private lender — not the Education Department.

Federal student loan types:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Direct Consolidation Loans

  • Direct PLUS Loans, including Parent PLUS Loans

  • Federal Family Education Loans, including Joint Spousal Consolidation Loans

  • Perkins Loans

Learn More: Federal vs. Private Student Loans

Federal Student Loan Servicers

*Wondering whether your Navient loans will be forgiven? Read more about How Do I Know If My Navient Student Loan is Cancelled?

Learn More: Who Is My Student Loan Servicer?

How to check private student loans

The easiest way to find private student loan debt is to check a recent billing statement. The top of your bill will have the name of your lender and servicer.

Another option is to check your credit report. You can pull a free report without hurting your credit score. The report will show your outstanding balance and tell you which lender owns your debt. You can contact that company to get more information about the loan.

If your student loans disappeared from your report, it can be challenging to find the lender or collection agency that owns the debt. You may need to wait for the company to contact you to figure out what repayment options you have.

Learn More: What Happens if You Default on Private Loans?

Need help with your student loans?

If you want help developing a strategy to deal with your student loans, I’m here to help. My entire law practice is dedicated to helping borrowers who have federal and private loans.

Schedule a free 10-minute call with me today. We’ll work together to develop a plan that allows you to meet your future goals.

UP NEXT: Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs 2022

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