Financial to-do list for graduating college seniors

Class of 2010: Now that you're book wise, get wallet wise too

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 8:08 am EDT



Public Company Information:


Cap and gown? Check. Finals? Check. Date for family party? Check. A plan to build a credit history after college and pay down student loans? Hmmmm. As graduating college seniors prepare to close the door on college life and start their first full-time jobs, Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving, planning and paying for college company, offers a financial checklist to help them start off on the right track.

Families will cheer on more than 3 million college students as they walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. As these new college grads head into the job market, the good news is that, especially in this shaky economy, education can give job applicants an edge. According to the Department of Labor, unemployment for young people with college degrees is one-third that of those with only a high school diploma.

Sallie Mae recommends new college graduates follow these tips for smart money management:

Notify your student loan servicers and other important parties every time you change your address, telephone number or e-mail address. Your loan servicer can help you stay current on your student loans, but only if it can contact you.

Get the facts on student loan payments. Sallie Mae’s payment calculator, available at, can help you decide which payment option best meets your financial situation. Consider the possibility of accelerating payments, as there is no penalty for early payment on either federal or private loans through Sallie Mae. In addition, student loan customers having trouble making payments should contact their servicer immediately to explore other payment options.

Mark your calendar so you know when the grace or separation period on your student loans ends. This is when you must begin making principal and interest payments on your student loans. For example, for federal Stafford loans, the grace period is six months after graduation. If you have a Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan, the good news is that you’ve already been keeping up with monthly interest payments, and as a result, you’ll graduate with significantly lower debt than if you had let accruing interest build up while in school. Plus, you’ve already established the habit of making monthly payments.

Pay a little extra. By paying more than the minimum on your student loans every month or whenever you can, you will lower the overall cost of your education. Sign up for Sallie Mae’s free Upromise rewards program to help pay down your student loan faster.

Know what you owe so you can develop a clear view of your existing debt, including student loans, credit card balances or car loans. Sallie Mae provides an easy-to-use worksheet available at to help. Make a budget that allows you to meet your obligations and pay down your highest interest rate debt fastest.

Start building your savings. Start setting aside some extra to build up a rainy day fund. You can set up an automatic savings plan and earn six times the national average with the FDIC-insured Online High-Yield Savings Account by Sallie Mae. No matter what your goals are for the future, you can reach them faster when you make more on your savings. The High-Yield Savings Account is a product of Sallie Mae Bank, member FDIC.

Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education. Celebrating 40 years of making a difference, Sallie Mae continues to turn education dreams into reality for American families, today serving 25 million customers. With products and services that include 529 college savings plans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search and planning tools, education loans, insurance, and online banking, Sallie Mae offers solutions that help families save, plan, and pay for college. Sallie Mae also provides financial services to hundreds of college campuses as well as to federal and state governments. 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.


Erica Eriksdotter (703) 984-5628