Keeping the Promise: New Tools for a Better-Than-Ever Aid Experience

This was cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

Personalized Repayment Simulation

Just a couple months ago, I promised to keep you updated about all the ways Federal Student Aid (FSA) is making your experience with us better. I’m excited to share that today we launched a few incredibly beneficial tools that make it easier than ever to understand the aid you’ve received and navigate your repayment options.

You’ll see our first enhancement the moment you log in to our website; now, you’ll see a whole lot more detail on your student aid dashboard. We’re collectively calling this information Aid Summary. It gives you much more information about the grants and loans you’ve received and shows your remaining grant and loan eligibility. This may seem like a lot of information at first, but take a closer look. I think you’ll find the Aid Summary to be a go-to tool to help you manage your aid while you’re enrolled and after you leave school.

If you’re a borrower already making payments on your loans, Aid Summary also shows you how much progress you’ve made toward paying off your debt. Another new feature shows borrowers who have submitted an Employment Certification Form (ECF) the progress they’ve made toward earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). We know that regularly submitting an ECF is the best way to stay on track for PSLF, and we want to ensure you have access to information about your eligibility and number of qualifying payments. This is just one step that we’re taking this year to arm you with better information.

Along those lines, we’ve also built a brand-new tool that I think you’ll really like. See, I came from the Air Force, where we use flight simulators to help our pilots navigate the skies. Now, FSA has Loan Simulator, which will help you chart your path through successful loan repayment! We have lots of  repayment plans to choose from, and we realize it can be hard to figure out which one best fits your financial situation and goals. That’s why we’ve built a feature that lets you specify if you want to pay down your loans as quickly as possible, get the lowest possible monthly payment, or reduce the interest that you’ll pay in the long run. You can change your preferences at any time to see how your recommended plan changes, and we’ll even give you direct links to the forms that you need to access certain plans.

One of our goals is to make it possible for you to make student loan payments on StudentAid.gov, our website. To learn the best way to make that happen, we’re launching a new pilot. Starting today, about seven million customers will be able to Make a Payment from their dashboard. If your loan servicer is Nelnet or Great Lakes, you can now make a regular monthly payment through StudentAid.gov on your computer or mobile device instead of logging in to your servicer’s website. Over the course of this year, we’ll build out additional functionality in the Make a Payment pilot, and eventually, all federally managed loan borrowers will be able to pay their balances through StudentAid.gov.

Finally, we’re launching a collection of resource articles on StudentAid.gov. These articles will give you—our students, parents, and borrowers—the information you need to successfully apply for and manage your federal student aid.

I can’t wait for you to check out all of these new features. I look forward to updating you again in the next couple of months, when I’ll introduce you to a new step you’ll take when you want to take out more loans: The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement. Until then, I hope you take advantage of all these new features on StudentAid.gov.

Mark Brown is Federal Student Aid’s Chief Operating Officer