As an eager but clueless student accepted to New York University about a decade ago, I signed away my financial future to the entities that lent me the money to attend. I had no clue how student loans worked, and N.Y.U.'s meager attempts to explain didn't help much, so I just figured I'd worry about all that stuff later.
More from The New York Times:
Panicked borrowers, and the Education Department's unsettling silence
It's a good time to trade your student debt for home debt
A beginner's guide to repaying student loans
Of course, that "later" has come for me and most of my peers: About seven out of 10 college graduates have student debt, averaging around $30,000. I, like many others, dutifully but mindlessly make my monthly payments, mostly resigned to being in debt forever.
But robotically making monthly payments doesn't have to be the whole story. I'm not ashamed to admit I don't know much about money, but my pal Ron Lieber — The Times's personal finance columnist — sure does.
Here are three lessons I've learned from Ron on how to be more strategic about student loans. (And let's assume you've been paying them for a while. If you're just starting out, this is a great place to begin, as is The Times's student loan calculator.)