• How to reduce your student loans

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    Channel 2's Consumer Adviser Clark Howard said before students start applying for loans, they need to rethink where they attend school.

    The average college student pays between $11,000 and $46,000 depending on the school they attend, according to Collegeboard.org. And a quick survey of six WSB-TV interns found together they hold $228,000 in student loans.

    That’s just a fraction of America’s student loan debt, which sits right around $1.4 trillion.

    Why don’t you go to a community college for the first two years and finish your degree at a state four-year school, Clark said.


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    Next, you've got to see what grants and scholarships might be available for you even if you think there aren’t any.

    Clark suggests Fastweb.com and Scholarshipmonkey.com, but warned against paying anyone for help with the process.

    Usually they are going to rip you off, he said.

    It’s also important to find out if you employer offers any education assistance.

    That’s how Clark was able to attend grad school completely free.

    If you’ve already taken the steps above and still need help funding your education, there are sites that can help you. Credible.com is one of them.

    They offer student loans and student loan refinancing, Clark explained.

    Credible founder and CEO Stephen Dash said the site works much the same way as Kayak and Expedia -- by working with multiple lenders to get you what they think is the best rate.

    “It’s free to use and there’s no impact on a borrower’s credit,” Dash said. “A lot of people just take the first loan offer that they’re given, when they’re financing college, cause they’re in a hurry, it’s summertime, no one wants to deal with this. So basically, people were getting ripped off through the fact that they didn’t realize they had these options available."

    Dash said the average student saves 1.7 percent by refinancing with Credible, but said it’s not the right choice for everyone.

    “For some people, refinancing federal loans is not a good idea,” Dash said. “Particularly if you are going to use the federal government benefits that are associated with, you know, pay as you earn, and in some cases people can be eligible for loan forgiveness if you work in public service, things like that.”

    SO-FI and Earnest are other sites that offer student loan refinancing.

    For more information about student loans, Clark has a guide at Clark.com.

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