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.

5. Choose a repayment option

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    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.
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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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