- by C.C.
Not doing the math before taking out student loans
If you’re planning on funding higher education with student loans, you should have a plan to pay it back.
That doesn’t mean working all during college and saving what you can, though that helps. It means, before attaching your signature to anything, take the time to read the fine print and attend a meeting with a financial aid counselor. Don’t blow through the entrance counseling usually required to take out a loan.
How to avoid it: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid if you’re a student or a parent of a student to find out if you qualify for any grants, which don’t have to be repaid. Seek out every scholarship opportunity you can. If that’s not enough, then start shopping around for, and reading up on, student loans.
Go for subsidized federal loans first, then if needed unsubsidized ones, and lastly, private loans. The difference is this: Federal loans usually have lower interest rates, and subsidized ones don’t charge you interest while you’re in school. Federal loans also come with more options for repayment, including income-based repayment plans. 
Bottom line: Student loans are a tricky business, so make sure to research everything and ask questions if you aren’t sure what’s going on.