What Is the NSLDS?

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 7/29/20

If you have ever gone searching for your student loan records, or even for information about other types of federal funding, you have probably come across the acronym “NSLDS.” You may have wondered, “what exactly is the NSLDS?” NSLDS stands for National Student Loan Data System and represents the branch of the U.S. Department of Education that deals with all types of federal student aid, loans, and grants.

You can think of the NSLDS as the central repository of all information concerning any educational funding that you have already received from the U.S. government and as the vast storehouse of ever-changing information on all the Title IV aid that is made available to prospective applicants each year. At root, the NSLDS is simply a huge, centralized database where you can seek out details, both specific and general, regarding government-subsidized educational lending or awards.

What Information Is Available in the NSLDS?

Personal records held within the NSLDS are comprised of items such as student loan or grant amounts, outstanding balances on loans taken, repayment statuses of loans taken, and postsecondary enrollment information. This kind of sensitive information is provided to the NSLDS by colleges and universities, the Direct Loan program, lending guarantors, and other participating organizations that deal with Title IV financial aid. 

Through the NSLDS website you can easily access:

  • Your original loan balance (the total amount you first borrowed)
  • Your current loan balances (how much is still owed on your loan)
  • Your loan type (Direct, Perkins, FFEL program, etc.)
  • Your loan status (current or good standing, default, etc.)
  • Your loan provider or servicer (who is in charge of managing your loan)

As private student loans of any kind do not classify as Title IV funds, they will not appear or be included in any part of your NSLDS records. Since loans represent legal agreements between all parties involved, it is imperative to know who you owe and how much. College Finance provides resources for finding out how much you still owe on any kind of student loan, federal or private.

The NSLDS site is also a wonderful place to research available grant funding. Many grants exist for subjects and groups that you may never have even considered. It is easy to navigate the NSLDS site in search of grants that may apply specifically to your course of study, your ethnic background, your religion, or even just hobbyist interests that you never thought could result in college funding. 

How to Access NSLDS Records

NSLDS records cannot be accessed by just anyone and the information they contain is handled on a need-to-know basis only. The only individuals who can view NSLDS information are professionals in the lending or education fields who are charged with calculating your future aid eligibility, those asked to answer questions regarding your grants and loans, and yourself. 

The information contained in the NSLDS site is completely protected by federal privacy laws and carries heavy penalties for any violations. Make sure that you never access anyone’s NSLDS records but your own and that you never allow anyone but yourself to access your records. This ensures that you stay well within the laws outlining protection for the important data that the NSLDS is responsible for. 

In order to make use of the information in your NSLDS records, you will need to have the following key identifying items available:

  • Your Social Security number (SSN)
  • The first two letters of your last name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your FSA ID (federal student aid ID)

The FSA ID is simply a username and password that you set up exclusively for yourself through the online systems of NSLDS. This username and password combo now serve as your legal signature on all NSLDS digital correspondence. If you have not yet set up an FSA ID, you can set one up digitally very quickly and easily. No one may set up your FSA ID for you and you cannot set one up for anyone else. 

If you have an older loan, you may still have a FAFSA ID. It is important to note that the FAFSA ID, which formerly functioned in the same capacity as the FSA ID as a kind of digital signature on important loan documents, was completely phased out on May 10, 2015. None of these FAFSA ID numbers remain valid or useful and should be safely destroyed and replaced with the FSA ID. Parents can review their PLUS loan information by logging into the same site with their own identifiers and their own unique FSA ID.

For troubleshooting within your NSLDS records or the site itself, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center by email at Studentaid@ed.gov. If internet connectivity is a challenge, you can also contact them by phone at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-730-8913) between the hours of 8 a.m. to midnight (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday, or between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

What Does the NSLDS Loan Status Mean?

Your loans in NSLDS records will all show a status code of one kind or another. The status code simply reflects the loan originator’s current disposition as relates to the progress of the loan. Your loan status may appear as:

  • Deferred: For students who are still enrolled in school and not currently making payments or for students who are in another designated grace period
  • Repayment: For loan holders who are actively making payments in the agreed-upon manner set forth by the terms of the original loan
  • Default/Delinquent: For loan holders who have missed payments or otherwise failed to follow through on the original agreements set forth by the loan provider
  • Canceled: For loan holders who have either paid off their loans in full or have had their outstanding balances fulfilled in some other way

If your loan status shows as default/delinquent, there are steps you can take to bring your loan back to good standing. Do not be concerned if your loan status does not immediately reflect changes when you resolve problems or make payments. It often takes time for the loan status code to be updated in the system.

How to Use the NSLDS

Whether you are a fledgling undergraduate who is just delving into the world of college funding or an eager grad student looking for help with the next phase of your education, the NSLDS functions as one of your most helpful tools. You can find out what types of aid are available, what your eligibility for it is estimated to be, and a full network of supports geared especially toward making students aware of what is available to them. College Finance can help students and loan holders navigate the maze of postsecondary funding options out there, and even present unique opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed by prospective borrowers.

The NSLDS website is available for use 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Updated information about available grants is reported to the NSLDS every day. If you are seeking grant funding, you can find new opportunities each time you log in. New loan information comes into the NSLDS platform within 30 days of your receipt of the funds. You can make payments, seek information about consolidations, and even fill out applications for loan forgiveness on the website. Information about upcoming aid announcements and events is also freely available and constantly updating.

For loans already in repayment, it is important to remember that the outstanding balance listed by the site may be as much as 120 days old as posted payments do not update that quickly. If you need immediate and accurate information about your outstanding balances, it is always best to contact your loan provider directly first. The NSLDS site is best used as a continual reference point and search tool for all things concerning college education expenses.