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Why you should make student loan payments while in school

College • December 11, 2018 • Rob Zodda

What you’ll learn

  • The benefits of making student loan payments during school
  • How student loans affect your credit

Let’s start by answering a common question: “Can I make student loan payments while I’m in college?” Yes. You can—and should—make student loan payments while you’re in college. Here’s why.

Making student loan payments while in school could save you money

By now, you’ve heard about interest. Interest is the cost you’re charged for borrowing money. It’s usually expressed as “annual percentage rate” (APR). APR is the annual cost of borrowing, including all interest, fees, premiums, etc., expressed as an annualized percentage rate based on your expected loan term.

With many student loans, interest starts accruing—or adding up—as soon as your funds are sent to the school. The interest you’re being charged will build up while you’re in school, ultimately increasing the amount of money you’ll have to pay back.

By making payments when you can, you could help lower the total cost of your student loans. If you pay the interest—or even just a fixed amount every month—it could save you money in the long run.

Don’t think you can afford to make payments during school? Consider using your tax return, birthday money, or money from a side hustle. Every little bit helps.

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You can make payments no matter what repayment option you chose

No matter what repayment option you chose for your loan, you can make a payment any time, for any type of loan.

Some students choose to defer making student loan payments, meaning they put them off until after graduation. This can be helpful for people who have no other option. But with private student loans, interest continues to accrue during that time. If you choose to defer your loan payments until after graduation, it just means that you’re not required to make payments while in school. But you’re absolutely allowed to make payments, if you’re able.

It could help you build credit

Aside from helping you pay for college and invest in your future, another benefit of student loans is that they can help you build credit. Credit is the ability to borrow money, based on the trust that you can pay it back. Most students don't have much credit history, so a student loan is an opportunity to build up credit while they’re in school.

Making payments on time, every time, is important to your credit health. It proves that you’re a responsible borrower and that you’re able to repay a loan. You’ll need good credit when you apply for a credit card, car loan, or mortgage.

Stay on track

By making student loan payments while you’re in college, you may be able to lower your total loan cost, make your post-school payments more manageable, and build credit.

Rob Zodda is a senior copywriter at Sallie Mae. When he’s not sharing info that helps consumers achieve their goals, he’s road tripping around New England or relaxing with an actual, physical book.

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Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae.