“If you qualify for income-driven repayment, you might be able to get your payments down,” Marquit said. “However, the interest still accrues and you need to be careful about the long-term cost of debt, which can be increased when you put off paying on your loans.”

Deferment and Forbearance

If you simply can’t pay at all, deferment and forbearance options are also covered. However, be careful not to use these options as anything more than a temporary crutch.

Adam Carroll, the founder and chief education officer of National Financial Educators, notes that graduates can “kick the can down the road… by the time they start paying back it has capitalized on itself where the interest is now the principal… They may have borrowed $40,000 and it’s ballooned to $70,000.”

If you’ll be starting college soon, remember that the best way to deal with student loan debt is to avoid it as much as possible. Look into grants instead of financial aid tied to loans.

Review scholarship options at your preferred schools. Look over the long list of specialized scholarships that target individual interests.

Related: How to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Choose Wisely

Try not to let finances dictate your choice of college but get value from your choice. Will your desired degree from your favorite school produce enough income to pay off student loans with relative ease?
Compare graduation rates and average incomes at schools for the same degree to help you assess value.

“These days, it’s less about getting the piece of paper and more about your return on education investment,” said Marquit. “Be realistic about your degree, the school you choose, and your prospects when you finish.”
Maybe you’ll be lucky: Perhaps you’ll get an athletic scholarship to cover college costs and be the first athlete to sign a $1.52 trillion contract. If you do, we still suggest using your money wisely. It may cost that much to send your children to college by then.