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Find the Perks

This wasn't part of the July 1 changes, but is often overlooked: If you work full time in a public service career, your federal Stafford loan, Direct PLUS loan or Direct Consolidation loan will be forgiven after 10 years.

That means you can choose the lowest possible monthly payment—most likely by selecting the new, income-based option—and have the slate wiped clean after 10 years. 

Tips for finding the best loans and financial aid options 

The step-by-step guide to paying for college

Can you afford to go back to school?

How much do you need to save? Use this calculator to find out!  

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