A Rough Guide to Repaying Student Loans

There are certain aspects of personal finance that I've never had to deal with. Student loans are one of these. But student loans are a huge concern for many people. This guest-post from SJean is an introduction to repaying these debts.

There are really two things to know about student loans: How to get them, and what to do when you have to start paying them back. I'm going to write about the latter, as I am more experienced with that aspect. It seems everyone can figure out how to get student loans (whether or not they are getting the best deal), but paying them back can be more confusing.

Most federal student loans come with a grace period of six months during which you are not required to make payments. That means if you graduated in May of this year, your grace period is coming to a close and you have some decisions to make.

What do I owe?
The first step is to find out how much you owe and to whom. Your financial aid office can help you with this, as can this site.

There are three major types of federal loans you may have: Federal Subsidized Stafford, Federal Unsubsidized Stafford, and the Federal Perkins loan. Some people may also have private loans, which I'll cover at the end of this article. (They're a different beast than federal loans.) For now, let's focus on the federal loans. According to the U.S. government's Student Aid site:

During the grace period on a subsidized loan, you don't have to pay any principal, and you won't be charged interest. During the grace period on an unsubsidized loan, you don't have to pay any principal, but you will be charged interest. You can either pay the interest or it will be capitalized (added to your principal loan balance, thus increasing the amount you'll repay).

Can someone PLEASE make these go away?
You may feel overwhelmed by your loans and wish that they would just go away. Actually, there are a few ways that they can be diminished without you paying them, but these are special cases. Most of us are going to pay back every dollar we borrowed. And more.

If you are interested in volunteer work, check out the benefits provided by joining the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. (For strictly financial reasons, you are probably better off getting a job and paying back the loans, but there are other reasons you may want to consider volunteering). If you are planning to be a teacher, join the military, or work in the legal or medical profession, there are some loan forgiveness programs you might be able to take advantage of.

Other than that, your student loans are going to be with you until you pay them back. Even bankruptcy will not destroy them. (But if you die, they are forgiven.) If your best shot of getting out of your loans is death, you probably should start working on a plan to repay them.

Consolidation: What is it?
Consolidating your federal student loans may lower your total monthly payment, but note this is primarily because you are extending the terms of your loan and paying more interest in the long run. If you can afford your monthly payment, and would rather not have a loan for 20 years, you still should consider consolidation. You also can stick with a standard repayment if you know you can afford it and don't think you are disciplined enough to make extra payments. There are no prepayment penalties in consolidation loans and there are a lot of benefits.

Consolidation: Can I consolidate?
Before you concern yourself with whether you should consolidate, you should check to make sure you are eligible. If you haven't graduated yet, you cannot consolidate your loans. (This was not true a year ago!) You must either be in your six-month grace period or in repayment. You must have eligible loans, usually totaling over $7,500 (you may be able to find some lenders who will do it for less). You can consolidate a single loan, as long as the loan being consolidated has not previously been consolidated. You can't consolidate with your spouse anymore, but that was usually a bad idea anyway.

Consolidation: Should I do it?
Student loan rates are adjusted annually on July 31st, based on the 91-day T-bill rates.

Years ago, rates were very low (as low as 2%!), and consolidation was a no-brainer. When I consolidated, they were around 4.5%. As of today, you can probably consolidate at 6.62% (before discounts) if you are in your grace period. If you don't consolidate, that rate will jump to 7.22% when the grace period ends.

Students who received Stafford Loans on or after 01 July 2006 have a fixed 6.8% rate of interest for the life of their loan. The rate on previous loans will continue to be adjusted annually. If you have loans that were dispersed both before and after that date, the interest rate is averaged and weighted accordingly.

The decision isn't as clear cut as it once was — it's something you have to decide for yourself. But my opinion is that for most people, consolidation makes a lot of sense. If you aren't happy with the current rates you could wait for lower rates, but who knows when they will be coming? In the meantime, you'll be subject to a variable interest rate. Consolidating now may result in lower payments and a lower fixed interest rate immediately.

Consolidation: How do I do it?
From the day I graduated (and even before), my mailbox was filled with offers to consolidate my student loans. Why does everyone want to help me with this? I was surprised to learn that my student loans are backed by the US government. If I default on my loan, the government will pay it, then try to get the money from me themselves. This means that the companies are essentially guaranteed to get their money back! Because of this, you will have plenty of offers to choose from. In reality, most of the offers are nearly identical, but pick wisely — this is a relationship you may have for a long time!

Remember, if you consolidate during your grace period, you can lock in your interest rate 0.6% lower and still not make any payments until your grace period ends. If you graduated last May, your grace period is probably ending very soon. Don't hesitate!

Here are some important things to consider when choosing a lender:

  • interest rate (will likely be the same for all lenders)
  • discounts for auto-payment
  • discounts for on-time payments
  • website and user interface for payments
  • ability to pay with credit card with no fee (to get cash back bonus, not to convert to credit card debt!)
  • ability to use Upromise rewards to
    pay back the loan (Sallie Mae)

I chose Wells Fargo because my other banking is there, making it really easy to make extra payments. I wouldn't exactly recommend them (a lot went wrong during the consolidation process), but now that everything is consolidated, they are working out just fine. Honestly, I wasn't as well informed as I should have been, and if I could do it again, I'd do more research.

Here are some sites to get you started on your research:

What if I can not afford my payments?
If you are unable to pay the monthly bill, there are a few things you can do, all starting with talking to your lender.

  • You can usually arrange an alternative payment plan, where you pay less now and payments increase as your income increases.
  • You also may qualify for a deferment, where you are not required to make payments for some set period of time (interest will still accrue though!). Your credit score will not be hurt, but these require special circumstances.
  • As a last resort, there is the option of forbearance. This is similar to deferment, but you don't need qualifying circumstances, and it will negatively impact your credit score.

I can pay them… and more! Should I pay them back quickly?
The general advice on this is no, as long as the interest rate is low. This does make sense if you are investing the difference of what you can pay and what you are paying. By the math, you should hang on to them as long as the term allows. Personally, my loan is for 20 years, and I just don't think I want to have them around when I'm in my 40s. Mathematically sound or not, I will be paying them off a bit early, but they are the lowest priority of my financial goals. The Get Rich Slowly philosophy “Do what works for you” certainly applies here.

The most often cited reason for not repaying student loans early is that the interest is generally tax deductible and you don't even have to itemize to take this deduction. Also, if you have a government loan, your money usually can make more for you elsewhere, though there is often more risk involved. If choosing between a Roth/401k or paying off loans early, I would recommend investing in your future.

What about private loans?
Private loans usually aren't low interest, and they don't have as many nice benefits as federal loans. If you consolidate, you typically aren't locking into a lower rate, just switching lenders. There may be some benefits, but be skeptical and don't consolidate them with your federal loans, as you will lose some important benefits. The best way to handle private loans is to pay them off as soon as possible.

Among the reasons private loans should be repaid as soon as possible:

  • You cannot defer payments on a private loan consolidation if you want to go back to school.
  • You cannot forbear payments in case of economic hardship.
  • You cannot apply for forgiveness on a private loan consolidation.
  • If you should pass away, private loans are passed to your next of kin. Federal loans are forgiven.
  • Private loan consolidation very often has variable rates, which means you cannot lock in today's current historic low rates. Those rates may be tied to volatile indexes like the Prime Rate, which can jump as high as 13%.

My private loans were somewhere around 8%, and I paid them off in about six months. I focused all of my financial energy on them, and even did a balance transfer to a 0% interest card, but paid it off as quickly as I could.

For more information on anything about student loans, visit FinAid! This site is excellent and should answer all of your questions.

You can read more from SJean at Stacking Pennies.

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Andrew
Andrew
12 years ago

For existing students: Try to get DIRECT Student Loans if at all possible. It’s the same Stafford/Perkins loans, but these loans come straight from the US Dept. of Education and are not routed through agencies like Sallie Mae. (US Dept. of Ed is MUCH easier to deal with, imo.) You can check/change status, apply for consolidation and make payments for Direct loans through the https://www.dlssonline.com website. You can also pay the accumulating interest on the loans while in your grace period, which will really help in the long run (I ended up only having $43 of interest added to my… Read more »

Lauren
Lauren
12 years ago

I’m not so sure that private loans are “passed on” to next of kin. A cosigner could be potentially liable and the balance will be taken out of the estate (which will reduce potential inheritance), but I’m pretty sure kin will not be personally liable.

Marcos
Marcos
12 years ago

A coworker and his wife (soon to be ex) are in a pretty bad place financially because of student loans. I don’t know all the details but from what I’ve gathered, they can’t keep up with the interest payments so the loans continue to increase both in interest and in fees, for missing payments and not paying the full amount. And, they consolidated years ago, before rates were low, so the interest rate is around 8%. Apparently, you can only consolidate once, so they couldn’t get the lower rates when they were available the last few years. From what he… Read more »

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

YAY!! Perfect timing. I just started a Financial Planning group with my girlfriends to help us talk out money issues. This is perfect timing to talk about student loans since i just posted the link to this website on our group website.

db
db
12 years ago

There is one way to reconsolidate a student loan, and that’s if you have a NEW student loan to roll into it. Unfortunately, the interest rate you locked in the first time will be applied, even if the interest rate when you reconsolidate would be lower, which is bad news (of course, if it’s higher then this is good news since it can’t be raised either). It’s also the only way I found that lets you switch companies once you’ve consolidated. This is from personal experience. When I was young and desperate for education I wish I’d realized what a… Read more »

Jared
Jared
12 years ago

First off, I want to say thank you for this informative guide! I’ve been paying off my student loans for about 2 years now. Thankfully they’re federal loans (unsubsidized, but still), so I have all of the benefits you described. And, like you mentioned, they are my lowest priority, as they are locked in at 6.5%. One important note you didn’t mention is whether to consolidate two student loans together – such as a husband and wife. Personally, my wife and I chose not to do this. If I do happen to kick the bucket, I’d rather the loan go… Read more »

Brooke
Brooke
12 years ago

http://www.whatsthecost.com/snowball.aspx?country=us
I have almost $50K in student loans. I ran my debts through this website. It gave me the snowball schedule to pay it off (and some other stuff) in 4 years. I get no tax deduction on my student loans because my income is too high, so it doesn’t help me at all to take my time paying it off. But this website is excellent (and I’m sure there are others like it) to make the process a little easier. I can’t wait to have this thing paid off!
Awesome article!

Peachy
Peachy
12 years ago

I had about 11k in student loans and now I’m down to under 2k (yay!). When I first graduated, I was really excited about paying them off because the interest was deducted, but once I made too much, I slowed down my payments considerably. At this point, my loan is a mental ‘thorn in my side’, so I want to pay them off as soon as possible, and focus on other bills. It’s one less piece of mail I have to worry about. The good news is that because I pay more than usual, my current due date is July,… Read more »

SJean
SJean
12 years ago

Hi, I’m the guest author and am glad that my information is useful to some! There is so much information out there, I knew I’d miss a few things. Thanks for adding your tips and comments!

I wanted to address Jared’s note about consolidating with a spouse. I did note that that is no longer allowed by govt regulations.

As for being passed on to next of kin, i did have a source that said that, but perhaps it was outdated/wrong. Hmm.

Dee
Dee
12 years ago

This is an excellent post! I just got a lovely letter from Sallie detailing when and how I will pay them back. I only owe $7k so I guess I won’t be able to consolidate. I had hoped to just write a check and pay them off at the end of the grace period, but since I don’t have a job yet (sigh) that isn’t possible.

Aimee
Aimee
12 years ago

It’s even worse for grad school though, because you don’t have the same options as undergrad. We have been researching our options, and wow! Not only is it hard to find info, but the payments are so high!

Glad for the tip about loan forgiveness though, as hubby is planning to be a teacher. We had never heard of that before.

jtimberman
jtimberman
12 years ago

Thanks to a couple blessings we received in the last week, we’re going to finally pay off my student loans, which have a hefty balance still. Sure, we could take the money and buy all kinds of things, but I’ve had these outstanding since 1999. Not as long as some people, but I think 8 years is plenty of time to be in debt on something that isn’t a house. Considering what we’ve been paying extra on them for the last several months as part of the debt snowball, this will free up $2000 per month. I think I can… Read more »

honeybee
honeybee
12 years ago

Yes, thank you thank you for creating this. I go into repayment this month and it was helpful (even though it hurts) to know that as a private loan holder I had best just git a move on with payments, suck it up and sink the ship asap. This is an extremely timely article for me, and extremely high-quality. Thank you.

JACK
JACK
12 years ago

I’m a big believer in paying off student loans as early as possible. Here’s why: 1) the interest is not deductible after a certain income level. I’ve never seen this advantage some of you speak of. 2) The debt is inalienable. If I decide I can’t afford my home mortgage or my car payment, I have an asset there that I can sell to change the situation. Sure, I might still have financial issues, but the facts are that barring certain crazy factors, I can get out from under those debts with real mitigation of loss or even some gain… Read more »

Marce
Marce
12 years ago

Another good website for tracking one’s federal student loans in the United States:

The National Student Loan Data System, at http://www.nslds.ed.gov. This system also tracks any Pell grant money one may have been lucky enough to receive. To login, one needs one’s social security number and FAFSA PIN.

My school uses this site to track previous loan data and to try to figure out consolidation issues when a student appears to have borrowed more than the maximum allowed to undergraduates ($23,000 subsidized, $23,000 unsubsidized; maximum $46,000 before receiving a bachelor’s; the amount skyrockets after that).

Rachel
Rachel
12 years ago

I’ve been paying on my student loans for 7 years now and I’ve basically followed most of this advice. I went into school with pretty much no aid and had to use loans to pay for eveything and ended up wtih about $30k all together. I’ve paid off about 1/3 of it and only last year, when we started really trying to pay off our debt, I wondered why it didn’t seem to be going down much at all. I really, really looked over my terms on the web site and realized that because I selected a teired program, where… Read more »

Money Blue Book
Money Blue Book
12 years ago

Not all debt is bad.

If you were able to consolidate your student loans at a very low rate a few years ago, you should most definitely drag out the payments for as long as possible. Not only can you possibly qualify for student interest tax deductions, but the money might be able to earn you a better return overall in an interest bearing bank account.

It all depends on the consolidated interest rate you were able to get.

-Raymond

Phung
Phung
12 years ago

One reason NOT to consolidate Direct Loan is that if you can get a “structured fixed payment” for a fixed term of 15 years or so. After you makes the fixed payments for the 15 years and there’s still a balance, you can get the rest of the balance is forgiven. Also, consolidation loans have a fixed rate based on their weighted average of their underlying loan’s interest rates, rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of a percentage point. While it’s true, you could have gotten a low rate (~4%) a few years ago, that’s because the variable rate around… Read more »

Melissa A.
Melissa A.
12 years ago

Student loan debt is the largest debt I have. I pay about $350 a month and I would love to pay more but I can’t afford it. I hate feeling like my money is going down the drain every month, since it doesn’t feel like I’m making a dent at all.

Rachel
Rachel
12 years ago

Melissa I totally feel your pain. I stupidly consolidated years ago when the interest rate was 7.75%. I had lots of credit problems at the time because I didn’t have a clue as to how to handle money. I really wish they’d taught me that before I agreed to a $40K loan. Here I am 10 years later and hovering at $30K (also paying about $350/mo). Ridiculous. No re-consolidation options for me, too, though my credit’s great now and I know I could do a personal loan. But I think that it would a) hurt my credit score and b)… Read more »

Anca
Anca
12 years ago

A few useful things to note (that were at least valid for me when I started repaying in June 2007): repayment starts when you drop below full-time, not when you graduate; having the monthly payment deducted automatically by the dept of Education from your bank account reduces your interest rate (mine by 0.25%).

FinanceIsPersonal.com
FinanceIsPersonal.com
12 years ago

Interesting discussion…in college I opted for a bit of a different route. I’d racked up $6,000 in student loans after my sohpomore year of college and wasn’t too pleased with the direction I was heading, so I worked… a lot, and will be graduating debt free. That’s the way to do it!

Metromom
Metromom
12 years ago

I also consolidated way back when the interest rate was 8.25% and have over $100k in student loans and the payments are killing me. I have some friends who took out a home equity line of credit on their house at a lower interest rate to pay off student loans (and so the interest is tax deductible since we are over the income limit). What do you think? Good idea or not?

Sam
Sam
12 years ago

A couple of things to add…

We are paying off my husband’s grad school loans this year ($27,000). He was paying the minimum payment for a couple of years and when I took over the management of the payments we figured out that the minimum payment only covered the interest and he had made no dent in the loans for 2 years!! Said another way he never would have paid off the loans.

We are $8000 away from paying on his loans and paying off all our unsecured debts.

SR
SR
12 years ago

While I tend to agree that some debt is more worthwhile than other debt, I really think it’s too much to say “good” vs “bad” debt. Yes, most people make more money with a degree than those without. To my knowledge, most student loans are generally between 6-8ish%. Now, if we were shopping credit cards, that would be a fairly good, but not great rate. If someone was consolidating their credit card debt, they’d probably go for one with a lower amount. I read once that paying an mere $15 extra per month could knock off *years* on a mortgage.… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
12 years ago

Here’s a related question that just appeared on Ask Metafilter today:

What happens when you don’t pay your (Canadian) student loans?

Scott Simmons
Scott Simmons
12 years ago

“(But if you die, they are forgiven.) If your best shot of getting out of your loans is death, you probably should start working on a plan to repay them.”

Heh. My wife used to have the job of verifying that student loan debtors were really dead. The process was about one step removed from the idea of the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “That’s right–you show me a body …”

Hadn’t thought about that in ages. Not one of her favorite jobs.

J.D.
J.D.
12 years ago
Mitch
Mitch
12 years ago

God, I always hear people talk about how student loans are “good” debts to have, but they sure aren’t good debts when you’re trying to repay $62k in private loans through the Great Satan, Sallie Mae. My minimum payments are a hair under $600 a month. They’ve been an anchor around my neck since I started paying them four years ago. No, I don’t even have anything productive to say. I just get so mad.

emma
emma
12 years ago

This has been a biggie for us as well. We (my husband and I) each consolidated our loans and they are fixed at 4%. We each have $30K in debt. We set them up in a graduated repayment schedule for 20 years. I am really conflicted on the payoff strategy. We could pay them off within 5 years. Do we do that just to get rid of the debt and not have it over our heads psychologically? Or, do we just save that money and know, hey we have $X in student loans but we also have much more than… Read more »

Anne
Anne
12 years ago

I have the same dilemma as Emma. (I didn’t mean to rhyme, but what the heck.) My government loans are over $55,000 fixed at 3.65%. Conventional wisdom says to save my cash in a high-yield savings account and pay the minimum on my student loans. But I don’t like having that debt–I feel like it constrains me to stay in a job I don’t like. I also worry that I might be tempted to do something else with the cash if it’s just sitting there.

J.D.
J.D.
12 years ago

My own position is this: if a debt bothers you, pay it off. I don’t care how “good” the debt is — if it’s a strain on your psyche, it’s better off gone.

icup
icup
12 years ago

@ JACK – “I can’t sell you my law degree.” That’s funny, because all the lawyers I know sell their law degree for $400/hour. @SJean – “If you should pass away, private loans are passed to your next of kin.” I *highly* doubt this, and would like to see a citation. At the very least, this is something that would definitely vary from state to state. In a “community property” state, the spouse *might* be on the hook for debt incurred going into the marriage, but there is no way as far as I know in any state to pass… Read more »

SJean
SJean
12 years ago

I will dig up the site that said that and post it. It may not be correct and I apologize for that mistake. In fact, I should have edited it out myself since that site also claimed that private loan interest is not deductable from taxes (pretty sure it is). Sorry for the mistake. Still, the premise is correct I think–pay off those nasty private loans as a top priority (under cc debt). Here it is: http://www.studentloanconsolidator.com/consolidation/faq.php#8 Also, while I did say that mathmatically NOT paying them back quickly makes the most sense, I admit that I am paying mine… Read more »

icup
icup
12 years ago

@SJean – It does say that on that site, but I still think that’s untrue. Private student loans are no different than private loans for any other reason. Have you ever heard someone say “It’s better not to get a car loan because if you die, your next of kin will have to take responsibility for it”?

I would contact that site, and call them out, but I’m afraid they will pester me about consolidating my loans again!

icup
icup
12 years ago

@SJean – Also, I’m not trying to be a hard-ass about that point. Your article was really great and really illustrates the options you have around student loans.

Its just that I have quite a bit of debt, and so do my relatives, and the thought of passing my debt on to them should anything happen to me or vice-versa is a little bit more than i can bear to think about.

SJean
SJean
12 years ago

@icup – No worries! I understand. Perhaps the intention of the statement in the website was that it would be taken out of your estate… I do agree that it is probably wrong. Sorry for propagating misinformation!

Fortunate
Fortunate
12 years ago

Great timing! Thanks for your article it was extremely informative. I just finished grad school with about $72k in debt which is actually less than I had planned since I graduated a year ahead of schedule (desperately grasping for the bright side). I was planning to consolidate but, thanks to your aricle, I am rethinking that. Not to mention the great advice and links in the comments. I might actually qualify for one of the loan forgiveness programs and I had never even heard of it!

StudentLoanWatcher
StudentLoanWatcher
12 years ago

Wonderful post. If people just were able to get more useful information like this, it would make the whole awful process of taking out loans so much easier. The fact of the matter is, parents, college officials and student loan companies need to spend time talking to students about debt and how to make the most of the college experience for the least amount of money. Gone are the days when college is just an alternative to work. With the ridiculously skyrocketing cost of college, it is something that needs to be planned out. To any student in school or… Read more »

P. Gonzalez
P. Gonzalez
12 years ago

My husband and I filed bankruptcy 4 years ago, we have 1 year left. I was told by our lawyers that we could not include my student loan in the bankruptcy, and would have to pay it back when the bankruptcy ended. I was fully prepared to do this. I have recently found out that we have a $5000.00 balance on our bankruptcy, and that balance is for my student loan. I need to know if it’s possible to not pay this student loan on my bankruptcy. We are paying $435.00 a month to the trustee, and my husbands income… Read more »

jtimberman
jtimberman
12 years ago

Pseudo update to my post earlier: We’re now debt free except the house. The student loans have a balance “Paid in Full” on my Direct Loans account. The minimum payment each month was $538. We were making larger payments than that, but now we can use that $538 on anything we want. Its our money now, not the Direct Loan Service’s money. Oh and to anyone talking about getting a ‘fixed’ payment over 15 years – here’s some food for thought. I paid $11,500 in just INTEREST payments because I fell for that kind of repayment plan. It is STUPID.… Read more »

I hate loans
I hate loans
12 years ago

Great article, but I’m a lil confused. “I can pay them… and more! Should I pay them back quickly? The general advice on this is no, as long as the interest rate is low. This does make sense if you are investing the difference of what you can pay and what you are paying. By the math, you should hang on to them as long as the term allows.” I don’t quite understand this theory. Can you elaborate please? I mean I got the part where you just pay minimum and use your extra money on hand to invest in… Read more »

shawnna
shawnna
12 years ago

I’m pretty sure that forbearance doesn’t have any effect on your credit score. I track mine frequently and continued to do so when I went into official forbearance on my loans and my score didn’t change a bit. Actually I think it went up during that time…

Also, I was able to go into forbearance on my private loans.

Lori
Lori
12 years ago

My son graduated from law school a year ago, applies for jobs daily and still is not employed. He bought a house (bank repo) three years ago while in school and with the lousy housing market he still has no offers even at a reduced price. Student loan payments of over $1200 month are coming up next month. Where can he get help? Ideas??

diane
diane
11 years ago

Liz what is the website you said you published ?
Your Financial Planning group with your girlfriends to help talk out money issues, such as student loans. I didn’t see your link .

Susan MCleod
Susan MCleod
11 years ago

Shawna, as far as I know forebearance doesnt affect your credit score. This article seems to affirm this:
http://livesafely.org/financial-freedom/get-rid-of-student-debt-once-and-for-all/

and the gov’t site itself mentions it:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/attachments/siteresources/LoanForgivenessMarch18.pdf

Seana
Seana
11 years ago

Almost anyone can get a student loan these days. Whether they can pay for it is a different story. People these days need to be aware of what they are getting into before they do it. By the way, the other student aid resource out there for preparing your fafsa was http://www.fafsausa.com

Denise
Denise
11 years ago

FYI – my private loan rate is now HALF of my Federal Stafford loan rate! A lot has changed since 2007…

AJ
AJ
11 years ago

Not all this info is accurate. My forbearance has not affected my credit score. I guess it depends on the ocmpany.

Khole Nichols
Khole Nichols
9 years ago

Get as many scholarships as you can, and max out on your federal financial aid would be my advice. I still had to take out private student loans, but not that much because I also worked part-time. Get your info from sites that are not private student loan lenders (i.e. htt://fafsa.gov/ http://studentloansforcollege.org/ http://www.projectonstudentdebt.org, etc… and the other main ones).

I have found that minimizing my private student loans at all costs has really helped me.

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