TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/9/10)--Southeast Corporate FCU in Tallahassee, Fla., has established an arrangement with Sallie Mae to offer the Smart Option Student Loan program to member credit unions. The program is designed to assist families in meeting the rising cost of college while helping students graduate with less debt and pay off the loan faster after graduation. Students pay interest while in school and graduate with less debt, compared to other longer-term private loan alternatives in which no payments are made until after graduation, said the corporate. A typical freshman can save 30% to 50% on finance charges over the life of the loan. With the loan’s shorter repayment period, a member can pay off the loan five to eight years faster after graduation, compared to a standard 15-year interest-deferred private loan. The member may select either a $25 monthly in-school payment plan or opt to pay interest only while in school. Also available are an on-time payment reward and interest-rate discounts for automatic payments. “This opens the door for credit unions to establish a long-term financial partnership with young adults,” said Brad Miller, president/CEO of Southeast Corporate FCU.