Where am I?
What if I...
...need to know how much I've borrowed so far?
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's (ED) central database for federal student loans (excluding Health Professions Student Loans and Alternative/Private loans). NSLDS Student Access provides borrowers with a centralized, integrated view of their federal student loans.
To view NSLDS Student Access:
log into www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/
select "Financial Aid Review" (Note: Department of ED PIN is required)
...want to know what my loan payments will be?
If you've already determined how much you've borrowed in student loans, it's important to estimate how much your monthly payments will be on those loans once you've graduated, withdrawn or if your enrollment has dropped below six credit hours.
Use this online payment calculator to get an idea of what your payments will be.
...default on my loan?
Tax Refund Offsets
The IRS can intercept any income tax refund you may be entitled to until your student loans are paid in full. This is one of the most popular methods of collecting on defaulted loans, and the Department of Education annually collects hundreds of millions of dollars this way.
You can challenge a tax refund offset. To learn more about acceptable reasons to challenge offsets and how to do so, see the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance website.
Your Paycheck Garnished
The government can take ("garnish") a limited portion of the wages of a student loan debtor who is in default. It can take up to 15% of your disposable income. However, it cannot take more than the equivalent of 30 times the current federal minimum wage.
As with the tax refund offset, you can object to a wage garnishment. To learn more about the reasons for objection and how to object, see the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance website.
Another way to avoid wage garnishment is to contact the holder of your loan and negotiate a repayment schedule. For more information, see Nolo's article on Student Loan Repayment Options.
Your Federal Benefits Taken
The government can take some federal benefit payments (including Social Security retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits, but not Supplemental Security Income) as reimbursement for student loans.
The government cannot take any amount that would leave you with benefits less than $9,000 per year or $750 per month. And, it cannot take more than 15% of your total benefit.
...need to withdraw or take a leave of absence?
Financial Aid Withdrawal Policy
Students who are out of class for 29 days will be withdrawn from the University on the 30th day of non-attendance. After the 30th day loan and grant funds will be returned. Students must be approved by Financial Aid before returning to class and receiving future loans and grants. Upon return, the student may be required to reapply for financial aid and/or pay any balance on their account.
Leave of Absence Policy
A leave of absence (LOA) is considered a temporary interruption in a program of study that is planned prior to a class start date. By completing the following process, students may maintain their in-school enrollment status.
The University may grant a leave of absence to students who complete the official Leave of Absence form with Student Services prior to the first scheduled class meeting. If unforeseen circumstances prevent the student from completing the form in a timely manner, the University may grant the request if all paperwork is received within 15 days of the student's last date of attendance. Unforeseen circumstances may include, but are not limited to, medical and family emergencies, business travel, University course cancellation and/or natural disasters.
Students may be approved by the University for up to two nonconsecutive leaves of absence in a calendar year. Each leave may not exceed 90 days in length (for a total of 180 days during a 12 month period).
Students who wish to take a second leave of absence during the calendar year may do so only for special circumstances which include, but are not limited to the following: military reasons, circumstances covered by the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, ADA accommodations, jury duty, University course cancellation and/or faculty closure, and natural disasters.
Students returning from a first leave of absence must successfully complete one course, with a grade other than "W" or "F" prior to requesting a second leave.
Students who do not return to the University on the date specified on the Leave of Absence form will be moved to a withdrawn status and loan funds and grants will be returned. The last date of attendance will be determined by the last date that the student attended the University prior to the leave of absence.
...want to know more about Hope/Lifetime credits?
The federal government offers parents and students two tuition tax credit programs, Hope/American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning, to help pay for higher education costs. If you meet certain conditions, you can qualify for a reduction on your federal income tax bill. However, you may not claim both the Hope/American Opportunity and the Lifetime credit for the same student in the same year.
What Is a Tax Credit?
Tax credits allow you to subtract, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the amount of the credit from your total federal income tax bill. Income tax deductions are subtracted from your income before your taxes are calculated. As a result, tax credits usually allow for greater total savings than tax deductions.
The Hope/American Opportunity Tax Credit
With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, also known as the Stimulus Bill), Congress has expanded the existing Hope tax credit, now called the American Opportunity Credit. The expanded terms will apply to tax years 2009 and 2010. While the Hope Credit could be applied to two years of post-secondary education, the expanded program allows the credit to be claimed for four years, and also expands income eligibility.
To claim this credit, the student must be enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or other legitimate education credential.
The maximum yearly credit per eligible student is $2,500.
The American Opportunity Credit is partially refundable, which means up to $1,000 could be paid back to lower-income taxpayers when the credit exceeds their total tax bill.
There is no limit on how many family members can receive the credit.
The amount of the credit begins to phase out if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is between $80,000 and $90,000 or more for a single return and between $160,000 and $180,000 or more for a joint return.
For parents or guardians to claim a Hope credit for their child's college expenses, the student must be listed as a dependent on the tax form. If the student is not listed as a dependent on another person's tax form, he or she can claim the credit.
For exact directions for claiming the American Opportunity credit, and information about a further credit available to students in specified Midwestern disaster areas, consult IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
This credit is available for all years of post-secondary education and for courses (even a single course) to acquire or improve job skills.
The Lifetime Learning credit can only be used for tuition and fees. The credit can be claimed for 20 percent of the amount you pay (see maximum limits below).
A taxpayer may claim a tax credit for 20% of up to $10,000 in a combination of tuition and fees. This equates to a $2,000 tax credit in 2008 and 2009.
The amount of the credit begins to phase out if your AGI is between $50,000 and $60,000 for a single return and between $100,000 and $120,000 for a joint return.
Consult IRS Publication 970 for specific rules on eligibility and claiming this tax credit.