When Ruth B., now 26, graduated from college in May 2014, she already had a few months of student loan payments under her belt.
Ruth, who asked that her last name not be used, had taken out federal loans to help cover her tuition and living expenses every year. But in her senior year her family finances changed when her younger brother started college, as well.
"My senior year I couldn't count on my mom to help me out, so I took out a private loan from Sallie Mae to cover everything that financial aid wouldn't cover," Ruth said.
Ruth realized right away that the interest rate on the loan was more than she was comfortable with, so she started making payments her senior year with money from her work-study job on campus.
"I saw it as a free period," she said. "I was able to knock out about $1,000 to $1,500 doing that, which is not insignificant."