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Student loans: 5 steps to pay down your debt

Student loans aren't far from your mind if you've graduated. Now comes the hard part: paying for the education that you’ve just completed. Where to begin? Collect all your loan paperwork and then follow these five smart steps to paying off your student loans.

- Maura KastbergContributor

In this May 2012 file photo, graduation candidates add some personality to their caps during the Centenary College Commencement Ceremony Saturday in Hackettstown, N.J. (Matt Smith/The Express-Times/AP/File)

5. Choose a repayment option

Once you know how much you have to spend monthly, consider your repayment options. For federal loans there are a few options to check out:

- The standard repayment (10-year repayment)
- Graduated repayment (starting with lower payments with gradual increases every
two years)

- Extended repayment (25 years to repay, with lower monthly payments but higher total interest costs)

- Long-term repayment (30 years to repay, which lowers monthly payments even more but is the most expensive option because of the added interest costs)

- Income-based repayment (a payment amount proportional to your income and family size)

- Income-contingent repayment (the repayment amount is calculated each year based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total amount of your debt.

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