GREENSBORO, N.C. (3/2/11)--First Carolina Corporate CU has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer a student loan program for credit unions. The Smart Option Student Loan Program is designed to supplement a student's federal student loans and other financial aid to help students cover up to 100% of the education expense. In the program, students save money by paying interest while in school. Borrowers choose between a fixed $25 monthly interest payment and the full monthly interest payment. A typical freshman can save 20% to 30% on finance charges over the life of the loan and pay a loan off five to eight years faster than with a standard 15-year interest-deferred private loan, said the corporate. Credit unions participating can earn a 1% referral fee on funded loans originated from the credit unions' website link, face no credit risk since Sallie Mae assumes the risk, and use the program to attract younger members, the corporate said.