College students these days graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt to their name. Six months after graduation those first payments come due and the entry level job they have doesn't pay the bills. And we're not considering any credit card debt amassed in those four years. This problem is not uncommon. But it can be as there are ways to get through college with little-to-no debt if you're smart about your money.
The major area of accumulated debt is student loans. There are a few things that you can do to reduce this debt. First of all, consider going to a less expensive college. It may not eliminate student loans but it may reduce them. Another way to reduce college costs is to spend your first two years at a community college. This is a great way to complete your general education courses and reduce the total amount you pay for four years of schooling. Another way to reduce debt is to take a student loan for only what you need. Many students take the full amount offered to them and end up owing much more at the end of their education. Limit yourself now; you'll be glad later that you did. And finally, make sure that you maintain good credit throughout college so that you can get great consolidation rates on your loans.
In order to keep that good credit, you're going to need to avoid the major pitfall that haunts many college students: credit cards. As soon as you get to college, you're going to see credit card companies set up all over the campus. They'll be giving away freebies to get your attention and that should be the biggest sign that they want your money. Credit cards get students into debt faster than any kind of loan and should be avoided if at all possible. If you do want a credit card during your college years, try to get a student rewards credit card that has both a low interest rate and a low credit limit. Use it only for emergencies and aim to pay it back at the end of each month. This keeps your debt level down and builds good credit so you can get better interest rates on loans down the line.
The key to keeping your debt level low is really to maintain responsibility in your spending. You aren't earning money (or are earning very little) while in college and your spending should be a reflection of that situation. Set a budget at the beginning of the semester and make sure you stick to it. This doesn't mean you can't go out and have fun; you'll just have to be creative in finding social activities that are free or low-cost. Start learning tips now for living frugally and you'll graduate without the big burden of debt hanging over you. Plus, many of those tips will come in handy later as you have to budget for life changes such as wedding expenses, planning for children and making changes in your career.