Love them or hate them, student loans are still one of the best tools to help you get a college education.

The devil is in the details, though. It is easy to spiral further and further into debt if you do not know how to make use of these “borrow money”, so here is a quick list of tips to help you better handle student loans:

Find a financial mentor

Why reinvent the wheel? There are people all around you – from your parents to your school counselor – that can help you learn more about the ins and outs of financing and money management. A simple discussion can save you a lot of headaches when you pull out the money, especially when the debt collector comes knocking on your door.

Set limits

Always know how much you’ll need. This is especially true for private loan companies, which are very good at convincing people to borrow as much money as they can even if they don’t need that money. Calculate what you’ll need for tuition, boarding, transportation and other essentials. Set this number in stone and do your best to spend only this much for the duration of your studies.

Manage expenses

The last thing you want to do is to lose track of how much money goes in and out of your balance account. A balance statement for your credit cards and a well-kept log of all expenses will help you understand where your money goes (and where it should go). This will let you enjoy a few nights out and a few trips to the mall without worrying that your money will mysteriously disappear when you wake up tomorrow.

Think long-term

Always plan ahead, especially if you are taking out a four or five-digit loan to finance your future. Some degrees are worth the investment, especially if there are plenty of decent-paying jobs on the market for that particular career. Some degrees, however, are less lucrative. Select a course that can at the very least produce wages that justify the loan you just took out.

Student loans are indeed a great tool for those who have no other financial means when it comes to paying for college but should be used sparingly at best. Regardless of your financial situation, it’s best to consider borrowing after exploring all other financial aid options.

This article is written by Yan Susanto, a regular contributor at, which helps college-bound students understand the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process.

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