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College is a time when many young adults acquire a tremendous amount of debt. From taking out government subsidized loans to utilizing private lenders to charging portions of living and schooling costs onto credit cards, the majority of students will have to borrow money in one form or another to fund their post-secondary educational expenses.

Sallie Mae, one of the biggest names in the private student loan marketplace, has recently introduced a branded credit card with an attached rewards program that allows cardholders to redeem points earned by using the card to make additional payments towards any outstanding Sallie Mae loans.

If you are a college student who is concerned about the amount of student loan debt you will be shouldering upon graduation, the last thing you want to do is rack up credit card debt in addition to what you already owe. If you are interested in getting a credit card in order to begin building your credit history, then applying for the Sallie Mae branded card with the rewards program that allows you to use points as supplementary payments towards your loan may be a good idea as long as you are committed to use the card responsibly by not charging anything to it that you can’t pay off at the end of each month. The APR on the Sallie Mae card, which ranges anywhere from 11.00% to 15.99% depending on your individual situation and creditworthiness, is much higher than the interest on your loans. Bear that in mind if you suddenly become tempted to spend a lot on the card with the idea that spending in that manner is “helping” you pay your student loans off.

No matter what, you should never, ever charge the cost of your tuition to a credit card unless you have the funds in an account to pay off the bill immediately. As described above, interest on credit cards accrues at a much higher rate than on student loans. Likewise, the grace period on student loans – even ones issued by a private lender – is going to be much more favorable if you are a student who is still in school completing your education.

Ultimately, the best approach to borrowing money to fund your college education is to borrow frugally to begin with after carefully evaluating all of the financial options available to you. Borrowing money mindfully will help ensure that you don’t take out more in loans than is necessary, therefore easing your repayment burden right off the bat.