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5 tips for graduating with less student loan debt

Choose your college with cost in mind.
How America Pays for College 2016 shows that 4 out of 5 students attend college in their home state to lower the cost of college. Some students save money by starting out at a community college and some look for schools where they can earn a degree in less time than usual.

Make student loan payments while you’re in school.
Interest starts adding up the day your funds are disbursed (sent) to the school. Depending on your loan, you may be able to choose a repayment option where you make payments while you’re in school, which may help you reduce your total loan cost. Choosing an in-school repayment option may also qualify you for a lower interest rate.

Make extra payments when you can.
Lenders do not penalize borrowers for making extra payments or paying early. If you choose to defer your student loan payments, you can still make payments any time without penalty. Again, this will help lower the total cost of your student loan.

Look for interest rate reductions.
Lenders may offer a student loan interest rate reduction for enrolling in auto debit. This means your payments are automatically deducted from your bank account each month. You can save money on your student loan and you won’t have to worry about being late with your payments.

Don’t pass up part-time work.
Work-study is generally a flexible on-campus way to earn money. And many career services offices can help students find part-time jobs in their field—an experience that could help you land a job after graduation.

Elizabeth offers tips for lowering the total cost of your Smart Option Student Loan®

Look for other ways to earn money.

With programs like Upromise® by Sallie Mae, you can earn cash back on the things you’re already doing, like shopping online, eating at restaurants, and booking travel. Then you can use your cash back earnings to help pay down your student loan debt.

Terms and conditions apply to the Upromise service. Participating companies, contribution levels and terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Go to to learn more.