DIPLOMA, AND A DEAL

Here's a gift for grads: the rate on student loans will drop to a record low on July 1. New grads will get the best deal, a rate of 2.77 percent, if they consolidate their loans within six months of graduating. Former students who are paying off Stafford loans will see their rates drop to 3.37 percent. Even parents with PLUS loans get a break: a new 4.17 percent rate.

To consolidate your loans during the six-month grace period, shop around. Many lenders will cut your rate to 2.625 percent if they can deduct payments from your checking account. Check the deals at Sallie Mae (salliemae.com), the Department of Education (loanconsolidation.ed.gov), and banks and specialty-education lenders like Collegiate Funding Services (cfsloans.com) and the College Loan Corporation (collegeloancorp.com). When you've nailed that, you can start the job hunt.

DIPLOMA, AND A DEAL | News