Guide to the Student Loan Clearinghouse and National Student Loan Database

Danika McClure
Graduation cap that reads “student loans” on top of stacks of 100 dollar bills

If you’re one of the millions of people who have utilized federal student loans or grants to pay for your college expenses, you may be curious about information regarding the money you’ve borrowed. Luckily, there are clearinghouses that you can access where you are able to securely check information regarding the status of your loans. The two most common are the National Student Clearinghouse, and The Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System.

They exist, in part, due to the passage of the 1966 Freedom of Information Act, which stated that information about their federal grants and students loans had to be made available to student borrowers.

While similar, the two provide different kinds of information for different people, but both can be useful for students.

Student Loan Clearinghouse: What Is It?

Each year, more than 20 million students attend college in the United States. The National Student Clearinghouse accounts for these students, verifying their enrollments and educational achievements. The services they offer can be used by both students and the institutions they attend.

The Clearinghouse services comprise four service areas:

Data Exchange

Offers postsecondary transcript and electronic student record exchanges.

Financial Aid Reports

Helps institutions with compliance and assessment of records in order to meet state and federal requirements for their financial aid.

Verification of Enrollment

Helps businesses and other organizations verify educational enrollment and attainment.

Research Services

Allows researchers to access student-level educational outcomes.

For students, the National Student Clearinghouse offers online services that allow students to order transcripts, obtain verification of their school status, and find money-saving discounts from companies across the web.

In essence, the National Student Clearinghouse exists aims to serve the education and workforce community by providing access to trusted data and insights about student loans, educational achievement of students, and other data.

What is the NSLDS?

The NSLDS is the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System, which provides a centralized view of your federal student aid including loans and grants. Each month, all U.S. colleges and universities are required to report their enrollment data to the NSLDS. In addition, lenders, guarantors, and loan service providers report information about your student loans.

If you have taken out any federal loan or have received a federal grant (including Pell Grants), information about that loan or grant will be listed at the NSLDS. Here, you can find certain information about the balance of your loan is, whether it’s active or inactive, and how your loan money has been disbursed.

Why is the Student Loan Clearinghouse Important?

The NSLDS and Student Loan Clearinghouse are important for a number of reasons. Mostly, they offer students a clear, convenient, and secure place to check on information about their financial student loans and grants.

In addition, the NSLDS and the Student Clearinghouse have additional information and resources dedicated to helping students make the best decisions possible when understanding their financial aid situation. The NSLDS also provides exit counseling services for those who have graduated or are leaving school.

Since most students end up using student loan or grant money at some point during their college career,

How the Student Loan Clearinghouse Affects Borrowers

If you’re borrowing money for the first time for college, it can be quite an overwhelming process. Most students neglect to think about how quickly their student loans can add up, the interest that accrues, and the amount they will need to pay back once they complete college.

Though it may seem like free money now, there are a number of consequences that students must think about in the future if they are unable to pay their student loans, including the risk of defaulting and doing serious damage to their credit score.

That makes it all the more important for students to pay close attention to both the amounts they take out, and the way they spend them.

As such, college students can use these databases and the information available to them to both help them understand what they’re borrowing and what that means for their financial future, but also helps them stay on track of what they owe and when.

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