Whether it's for Undergraduate, Graduate, or a combination of both, many people have to take out student loans in order to pay for their education.  As a result, many end up with a huge pile of debt at graduation.  It is key to stay on top of student loan debt in order to not be overwhelmed with by massive amounts of debt when you graduate.  Remember--student loan debt is the only debt you cannot discharge if you have to declare bankruptcy (something you don't want to do anyway as it destroys your credit!) so if your plan is to build up a ton of student loan debt, declare bankruptcy, and never have to pay it off--well that is not an option!

The first step is to minimize the damage.  While in school, you want to take as many preventative measures as possible.  Look into scholarships or grants that you do not have to pay back to cover some of the expenses of school.  Also, look into a part-time job or work study to cover some of your personal or school expenses.  The less money you have to take out in loans, the less you have to pay back later.

Next, when you are taking out student loans try to take out loans with the lowest interest rate as possible.  The lower the interest rate the less you pay back over time and the lower your monthly payments.  Look for loans that have the interest subsidized (i.e. covered) while you are in school.  Additionally, if you can, make interest payments while you are in school.  This will help keep you from monstrous monthly payments when you start paying your student loans back at graduation.

Start paying back your loans as soon as possible.  While it may be tempting to put your loans in deferment or forbearance or to take advantage of the grace period, the longer you wait to pay back your student loans, the more you will pay over time.  Remember, the key to loans is that the longer you take to pay, the more interest that accrues, and the more it costs you! If you absolutely cannot make your minimum payment and need to put your loans in deferment, make whatever payment you can afford no matter how small.  Again, with student loans every bit counts and makes a huge difference.  A $20 payment may seem like nothing, but with compound interest and years to accrue, that $20 can actually save you hundreds.

Not only should you pay back your loans as soon as possible, but you should also pay more than you monthly minimum loan payment.  This will minimize how must interest you pay and will help you pay your loans off sooner--saving you tons of money and freeing you from those burdensome monthly payments sooner!  A popular trick is rather than making one monthly payment, pay half of your monthly payment every two weeks.  This will result in your making an extra loan payment every year while still feeling like you are making the same payments.  The payments also help combat the interest sooner and prevents it from accumulating.

If you follow these simple steps you will not get buried under your student loan.  If all else fails remember these two things make payments sooner and larger than you are required to and you will get out from under a mountain of student loan debt much quicker and will be much happier!