If you're struggling to keep track of your outstanding student loans, you're not alone. Whether you're a current student who worries about your ability to repay your obligations in the future or an underemployed recent graduate, you're in the company of millions of cash-strapped young people. You can probably think of a dozen good reasons to keep track of your interest-accruing student loans.
Unfortunately, you might not be able to come up with a way to catalog and compare these obligations on paper. Many basic online programs like Quicken and Microsoft Money aren't set up to account for novel amortization schedules and balloon-style interest arrangements. Unless you're an Excel wizard, you also might not be able to figure out how to set that program up to perform the requisite computations. In short, you may have to resort to making excruciating calculations with little more than a pencil, calculator and hand-drawn loan tables.
However, there may be an easier way for you to conduct your long-term budgeting operation. Depending upon the policies of your student lender, you may have three or more options at your disposal. Since each of these options will eventually produce the same calculations, your ultimate choice will hinge on little more than your personal preference.
First, you may be able to source the appropriate spreadsheets and tables from your student lender. Most major banks provide so-called amortization tables free of charge. If your loans have a novel structure that requires you to take care of your principal before making any interest payments, your lender will almost certainly provide such information upon request. It may even offer the tables on its website.
If your student loans are guaranteed by the federal government or came through as part of the Stafford or Parent PLUS loan programs, you should be able to find the information that you seek at studentloans.gov. This site contains a wide range of information for student borrowers, including sample amortization tables and out-year interest payments. It's likely that you'll be able to find the appropriate table for your specific loan at this site. Alternatively, you could call the federal agency that oversees student loan disbursements.
Finally, you might be able to find the table that you seek at a financial aggregator site like dinkytown.net. If your loan's payment structure is fairly simple, you may be able to use a sample table as a guide. Otherwise, you can use an interactive amortization table to plug in the appropriate numbers.