College students who borrow to pay for school typically don't have to start repaying their student loans until six months after leaving school. For most, that means November is the month their first payment comes due, and Sallie Mae — the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company — has a variety of free tips, tools, and resources to help recent grads prepare for that transition, reduce the total cost of their loan, and successfully manage their payments.

Sallie Mae's " Manage your student loans" is a one-stop source of straightforward, comprehensive information. It features practical tools, including a monthly budget worksheet and a loan payment estimator, as well as easy-to-understand explanations of complex subjects, like how interest accrues, how payments are allocated to principal and interest, and how to build a strong credit history.

"The advice I give recent graduates is to create and follow a realistic budget, talk to your student loan servicers about repayment options, and put a few extra dollars towards your loan each month if you don't qualify for public service loan forgiveness. Don't forget free ways to repay your student loans, such as shopping with free rewards program, where you get cash back from your purchases, and the student loan income tax deduction, where you can get back $625 annually," said Reyna Gobel, student loan and paying-for-college expert and author of "Parents' Guide to Paying for College and Repaying Student Loans." "The information on Sallie Mae's website, in addition to talking to your loan servicer, can help you be informed instead of overwhelmed."

Whether their student loans are federal or private, Sallie Mae recommends the following tips to help new graduates manage their payments:

Know who and how much you owe. Keep track of lender and servicer contact information and other important details on a spreadsheet. Check out Sallie Mae's " Organize Your Student Loans" list for suggestions on what to include.

Tap technology. Set up automatic payments, and you'll never have to worry about missing a payment, you'll avoid late fees, and you might qualify for a discount on your interest rate. Sallie Mae customers, for example, may be eligible to receive a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction when they pay on-time via auto-debit.

In addition, Sallie Mae's award-winning mobile app for Android and Apple devices lets customers make and manage payments anytime, anywhere, including from an Apple Watch or by using Siri, and it supports iPhone X and Android Oreo. Sallie Mae is the first major student lender to accept payments from an Apple Watch or Siri, and among the first to let customers log into their accounts using Face ID on the iPhone X.

Save money. Make more than the minimum payment each month. You'll pay off your loan faster, and you'll pay less interest. Sallie Mae's accrued interest calculator can estimate how much you might save.

Think long-term. Paying on time consistently can help you establish and build a favorable credit history, and that can make a big difference when you apply for a car loan, credit card, lease, mortgage, or even a job. Learn credit basics in " Understanding Credit," a handbook published by Sallie Mae and FICO.

Be responsible. Open any mail you receive from your servicer or lender and read it carefully. Update your contact information when it changes, such as when you leave school and "edu" is no longer part of your email address. If you run into trouble, contact your lender or servicer, touch base with your cosigner if you have one, and look for solutions.

Sallie Mae helps its customers avoid repayment surprises from the start. When they're approved for a loan, Sallie Mae customers may choose a repayment option that best fits their needs. They may make monthly interest-only payments or fixed-amount payments while in school, or defer payments until after they leave school. More than half of Sallie Mae's customers opt to make payments while in school, which means they reduce the amount of interest they pay over the life of the loan, and they leave school with less debt.

In addition, Sallie Mae offers a Graduated Repayment Period (GRP), which allows graduates with eligible Sallie Mae loans in good standing to make 12 months of interest-only payments before they transition into making full principal and interest payments. Sallie Mae is the first private student lender to offer a GRP option.

"Our commitment to helping students and families succeed at every step of the saving, planning, and paying for college process extends well beyond graduation," said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. "Our student loan repayment tips and tools are designed to help new grads adopt responsible personal finance habits now that will serve them well throughout their lives."

For more information about saving, planning, and paying for college, visit

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

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