The StudentAid.gov website is an excellent one-stop Internet location where you can take care of everything related to your student loans.
Typically when people think of the StudentAid.gov website, however, they only assume that they can apply for loans. But there is so much more to this government website than that.
So if up until this point you have only used the website for applying for loans, we will chalk it up against your “honest mistake tab.”
Once you have read this post, there will no longer be an excuse for not taking full advantage of all the features of the StudentAid.gov website.
Ready to learn? Let’s delve right into it.
8 DIY Things on StudentAid.gov
Before we get started with all you can do on the website, let’s talk a little bit about how you can take advantage of all the following features — especially if you are brand new:
- Create an FSA ID. Go here to create one. You can only create an FSA ID for yourself and nobody else. Keep this ID in a safe place where you will remember it when needed.
- You will need to verify that you are at least 13 years old.
- Create a unique username and password.
- You will be required to answer challenge questions for the purposes of signing in — enter your Social Security number, birthday, and contact information.
- You will accept the terms of conditions.
- You will then receive an email that will contain a secure code that allows you to verify your email on the site.
- Once this is done, you are ready to start using the StudentAid.gov website.
Apply for Student Loans
As mentioned above, this is usually the most obvious thing you can do on the website. Each loan is treated differently and will require different things of you.
Undergrad students will be directed to FAFSA.gov to apply for loans.
If you are a graduate student, professional student, or a parent, this is where you can apply for the PLUS loan.
Watch Educational Videos
The truth is that you are responsible for your own education when it comes to your student loans and paying them off after you’re done with school. The phrase, “I did not know that,” will not absolve you from any expensive mistakes you make when it comes to your federal student loans.
And no matter how much bloggers like me tell you in our blog posts (and we do tell you a lot), it is always best to get your student loan information directly from the source.
Thankfully, the folks in charge of the StudentAid.gov website realize that video is a powerful content medium. Thus they have put the effort into creating videos that educate on this subject that affects every American’s life.
You will find multiple videos on the website, but you can also stay up to speed by subscribing to the Federal Student Aid YouTube channel.
The videos created and provided by StudentAid.gov cover topics like:
- Getting your FSA ID
- What to do if you have forgotten your FSA ID
- How to fill out your FAFSA
- FAFSA tips for parents
- Types of aid available to you
- Repayment options
Debt counseling doesn’t have to start when you are hundreds of thousands of dollars deep in debt. It can start the first day you visit the StudentAid.gov website.
In fact, if you have not previously taken out a Direct Loan or a loan from the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the government requires you to take and complete entrance counseling so that you understand your responsibilities once you take out the loan. That counseling can be taken right on the StudentAid.gov website.
According to the website, these debt/financial counseling sessions take around 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
Appeal a Credit Decision
Are you unhappy about a decision that was taken regarding your credit or loan application? You can appeal the decision via the StudentAid.gov website.
To be able to do so, you will need to know your FSA ID or the email address you used in signing up and your password.
Apply for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan
I’ve talked a lot about income-driven repayment plans here on the blog.
Check out these posts for more information on federal income-driven repayment plans:
- Do You Qualify for Student Loan Income-Based Repayment?
- Discretionary Income Calculator: See How It Impacts Your Student Loans
- How REPAYE Changes Student Loan Repayment for the Better
The advantage of income-driven repayment programs of course is the fact that you will be paying off your student loans based on your income level. This is helpful if you are not earning a lot of money yet but would love to still keep up with payments.
The biggest drawback to income-driven repayment plans is the fact that because you will be paying lower amounts, the total time it will take for you to get rid of student loan debt will be prolonged.
However, it is always better to pay off smaller amounts and avoid defaulting on your student loans.
So applying for an income-driven repayment plan is another thing you can do yourself on the StudentAid.gov website.
Cosigners and Endorsers
Do you need cosigners and endorsers for various parts of your student loan or repayment applications? Your cosigners and/or endorsers can be such on the website.
This is particularly important for Parent PLUS Loans.
You can estimate the payments for your federal student loans using the repayment estimator on the website. This is one of the best tools to estimate your monthly payment - never trust a third party source without double-checking the information here first.
If your loan is eligible for a repayment program, you can use this tool. Check out the repayment estimator tool here.
Consolidate Your Loans
You can complete a consolidation loan application on the StudentAid.gov website.
If you have multiple student loans that you would like to combine into one loan with a fixed interest rate, you can do so on the website.
Consolidating your loans this way is completely free.
You will be able to select the loans you want to consolidate. After the process is complete, you will have a single monthly payment.
I recommend this path if you don’t want to have to be making multiple payments each month to loan servicers.
You can do more on the StudentAid.gov website than downloading application forms to apply for student loans. Take full advantage of all the resources we’ve uncovered here to master your student loan debt.
Is there anything else you can do yourself on the StudentAid.gov website that we did not mention in the post? Let us know in the comments below.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.