Student loans are funds loaned to students and, sometimes, their parents by the federal government or private banking institutions to help pay college-related expenses.

Except for a few specific forgivable loan programs, student loans have to be paid back, with interest.
To qualify for student loans from the federal government, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, often called the FAFSA. You also are required to complete entrance and exit counseling and agree to certain terms and conditions.

Student loans are an ongoing financial responsibility until they are paid in full. If you decide to take out student loans, most financial advisors recommend that your monthly student loan payments should not exceed 8 percent of your total monthly gross income after you have graduated.

It is important to learn about student loans before borrowing money to pay for your education.

Managing your student loans

To help you manage your current and future education expenses, develop and follow a budget and use a repayment estimator to determine how much student loan debt you can afford.

You can keep track of your student loans as you borrow and throughout repayment, by logging on to the National Student Loan Data System, at nslds.ed.gov.