StudentAid.gov: Your Guide to the Federal Student Aid Website
StudentAid.gov is your one-stop place to access your federal student aid account. Here, you can submit your FAFSA application, learn about available aid and grants, receive loan counseling, manage your repayment plans and more.
Getting started by creating your FSA ID
With your FSA ID, you can:
- Access the entire federal student aid website
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Apply for repayment plans
- Complete loan counseling
- Use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool
To sign up, you’ll need your Social Security number, phone number and email address. You’ll create a username and password, as well as security questions in case you forget either.
Once you create your FSA ID, you can instantly fill out the FAFSA, but you’ll have to wait up to three days to access everything else, including managing your student loans.
8 possible ways to manage your loans on StudentAid.gov
Here are eight key ways to manage your federal student loan debt on StudentAid.gov.
- Find and manage your student loans
- Use the Loan Simulator Tool to optimize your repayment plan
- Apply for an IDR plan
- Complete mandatory counseling
- Apply for student loan consolidation
- Track your progress toward PSLF, loan discharge
- Find information on avoiding delinquency and default
- Find forms and get more help
1. Find and manage your student loans
You can find all your federal loan information on StudentAid.gov, including your current student loan servicers. The Department of Education assigns a private loan servicer to manage your payments and provide essential student loan resources. You can also locate your servicer by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
The Department of Education automatically starts your loan on the standard 10-year repayment plan, but you can easily change your student loan plan for free. You’ll want to contact your loan servicer directly to discuss repayment plan options.
Typically, your loan servicer collects your payments. However, plans are underway to revamp and streamline the federal student loan management system as current servicer contracts end in December 2023. Stay tuned for more details to come.
2. Use the Loan Simulator Tool to optimize your repayment plan
StudentAid.gov features a Loan Simulator Tool to help you figure out the best repayment plan for your situation. This feature allows you to compare eligible plans and see monthly payment estimates before contacting your student loan servicer to request a plan change.
The Loan Simulator Tool can recommend a repayment plan based on the information you provide. You can also look into options such as making extra payments, consolidating your loans or the cost of borrowing additional funds. You can even see how your school choice affects how much you may need to borrow.
3. Apply for an IDR plan
Using the Loan Simulator Tool may inspire you to switch to an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. These plans limit your payments to a percentage of your disposable income. You can apply for these plans directly through StudentAid.gov.
For borrowers new to IDR
Applications are available for all of the current IDR plans, allowing you to potentially reduce your monthly payment. They are:
- Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment (REPAYE)
- Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
StudentAid.gov says the application takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Note that if you’re married and routinely filing a joint tax return, your payment will be determined by your combined income. As a result, your spouse must cosign any IDR applications you make. The term “cosigner” may be a little misleading here, since unlike a cosigner on a normal loan, spouses aren’t obligated to repay the loan by signing their name.
You can complete this requirement on the StudentAid.gov site. As long as your spouse has your applicant reference code and Social Security number, they can enter their information and digitally sign the IDR request within 10 minutes, according to the website.
For borrowers already using IDR
Returning applicants can complete the following at Studentaid.gov:
- Provide updated income and family size information to recertify an IDR plan
- Request to reduce your monthly payment because of a change in income or family size
- Switch from one IDR plan to another
Note that recertification is required annually, but you can request a lower payment or switch IDR plans at any time.
4. Complete mandatory counseling
You can complete mandatory entrance and exit counseling through StudentAid.gov. This counseling helps students prepare to repay their loans.
You must complete exit counseling if you have received a Direct federal loan and have left school for any reason, including graduation, or dropped below half-time enrollment. There is separate exit counseling for students receiving a TEACH grant.
There are also optional resources, such as Finance Awareness Counseling, that could be helpful for new borrowers. Similarly, credit-deficient PLUS loan applicants can fulfill their federal requirement by attending a PLUS Credit Counseling session.
5. Apply for student loan consolidation
If you’ve decided to consolidate your federal loans into a single Direct Consolidation Loan, StudentAid.gov is the place to get it done.
It takes roughly 30 minutes to complete the application, so long as you have all the needed information ready. You will need your FSA ID, your personal and financial info and the following details about your loans (even those you don’t plan to consolidate):
- Loan type
- Full name and mailing address of the loan holder or the servicer
- Account number (found on your statement)
- Estimated amount needed to pay off the loan
You could also indicate that you would like your consolidation delayed until your grace period expires. This is a good option to consider for recent grads, allowing you to delay consolidation for up to nine months.
After completing the application, you’ll select your new loan servicer. For borrowers unhappy with an existing servicer, being able to choose your own via consolidation is a big plus —you can generally change servicers only through consolidation or refinancing.
If you don’t want to complete the application digitally, you can download, print and mail your Direct Consolidation Loan application.
6. Track your progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other forms of discharge
- Understand more about the program and how you might qualify to have the remaining balance on your loan forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments.
- Determine whether your employer qualifies for the program. (It normally must be a nonprofit or government agency.)
- Help you decide which form you should submit.
- Generate a partially completed form for your employer to sign, which you then submit to MOHELA, the servicer handling all PSLF applications.
You can track your progress toward forgiveness on StudentAid.gov once you’ve submitted your Employment Certification Form. (Also, check out our PSLF calculator to see how much of your loans would be forgiven.)
StudentAid.gov also provides information on how to eliminate debt through the following methods:
- Teacher loan forgiveness
- A closed-school discharge
- A Perkins Loan cancellation and discharge
- A total and permanent disability discharge
- Discharge in bankruptcy (very rare but sometimes possible)
7. Find information on avoiding delinquency and default
It’s crucial to avoid having your student loans go into default, which could have a terrible effect on your credit. Your federal loan is considered delinquent if you don’t make a payment for 90 days, and in default if you miss payments for 270 days. Once your loan is delinquent, your servicer may report it to the three major credit bureaus.
StudentAid.gov provides information on delinquency and default to help borrowers understand what to do if their loans go into default.
Remember that your student loan servicer can work with you to restructure your payment plan or help you go into deferment or forbearance if you struggle to make payments. Because of student lenders’ relative flexibility, your servicer should be able to help make sure you never need to go into delinquency or default.
8. Find forms and get more help
If you can’t get a task completed or a question answered on StudentAid.gov, the site will guide you on where to find this information. For example, it suggests contacting your school’s financial aid office for questions about a loan’s disbursement date or your loan servicer for questions about your balance.
If you can’t find a particular form — or don’t know which form you need — head to the site’s Forms Library. Here you can find downloadable application forms for anything related to repayment, deferment, forbearance, discharge and forgiveness.
You can also be directed to the appropriate document or documents by answering questions about your situation. For instance, someone who can’t afford a current monthly payment and needs to press the pause button would be directed to a list of deferment and forbearance options.
The site also features a virtual assistant, “Aidan,” who can answer questions such as “What is my account balance?” and “What kind of grants are available to pay for college?” Aidan can also help you find specific pages on the site, access customer support information, locate your servicer and more. You can interact with Aidan by clicking the owl icon found on the bottom-right corner of any page on the student aid site.
StudentAid.gov contact information
The main phone number for StudentAid.gov is 1-800-433-3243. You can also email them at [email protected] or live chat directly on the site.
Telephone support is available at the following times:
- Monday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
- Tuesday and Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
- Thursday and Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET
- Saturday and Sunday: Closed
- Federal holidays: Closed on Nov. 24 and Dec. 22