I don't have many arguments with people - very rarely in fact. I try to think about others and understand their perspective while standing my ground where it matters. Despite my tact, though, one area of my life has consistently been the focus of my wrath: my student loans. In actuality, it's not really the loans themselves that I loathe - those were needed at the time and I don't regret them.
What I can't stand is the company that manages the loans. I won't say who it is . . . ok, it's Sallie Mae. Anyway, I have had a hard time recently with them over a dispute about how many loans I actually have. It looked like they were billing me for a loan that was taken care of earlier in the year. Trying to explain this to them over the phone was accomplishing nothing, so I looked for some "third party" options that might show me all of my student loans in one place. I ended up fidning two that I'd like to share.
The first is your credit report. While not as helpful in my situation, your credit report lists all of your debt - including your beloved student loans. You'll be able to see when your loans where taken out and how much they were for. It also lists how faithful you've been paying them in a calendar format. You can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Unlike some other sites, this one is actually free and is sponsored by the three credit reporting agencies. You're able to get one report from each agency for free once a year. You can also pay something like $9 to get your credit score. If you haven't done this in a while, I'd highly suggest it!
The second site I'd like to share is also the one that pretty much answered all my questions. It's the National Student Loan Data System for Students. You enter some very private information (securely of course) and it whisks you away to the magical land of student debt. You'll be able to see every federal student loan or grant you've ever had. For most folks, this will mean all of their loans. It's possible that you took out private debt, which I don't think would be here, but few do that because of the subsidies that come with federal student aid.
Instead of burying your head in the sand concerning what you owe, it's best to completely understand the situation you're in and, just as important, how to dig your way out of it. That topic is for a different post, though.
Mark Stevens is a former seminary student himself and currently researches and teaches in the area of theological studies.