Photo credit: Wiertz SÉbastien via

About 2/3 of all college students rely on loans to get their degree. But there are a number of decision to be made before getting a student loan, and those might determine your financial situation for decades. So before you sign, consider the following. Sources: MSN Money The Project on Student Debt

Student debt creates quite a hole
Photo credit: Wiertz SÉbastien via

In 2010, two out of every three college graduates have student debt, with an average debt of $25,250.

That, coupled with high unemployment rates, makes for an uncertain financial future.

If you have a choice, can you afford the more expensive school?
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Sometimes the best school simply isn't a realistic possibility financially, and choosing to attend an expensive school can lead to decades of debt troubles.

Just because it is debt for education doesn't mean it's smart debt.

left: Memorial Hall, Harvard University

Average Debt of Graduates: Utah's High Debt Colleges and Universities.
Photo credit: Kaplan International Colleges via

College is generally very inexpensive in Utah, but some colleges have students graduate with higher debt than others.

In 2010, average debt for graduates from these colleges was:

Westminster College: $20,002
University of Utah: $17,343
Western Governors University: $17,525

left: The University of Utah

Average Debt of Graduates: Utah's Mid-Debt Colleges and Universities
Photo credit: Utah State Library via

Average debt for graduates of these Universities and Colleges in 2010 was:

Utah State University: $15,194
Utah Valley University: $15,593
Dixie State College: $15,564
Brigham Young University: $13,354

left: Dixie St. College Val A. Browning Library

Average Debt of Graduates: Utah's Low-Debt Colleges and Universities
Photo credit: p-duke via

In 2010 average debt for these university graduates was:

Southern Utah University: $11,170
Weber State University (left): $10,570

Utah is a very affordable place to attend college.
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Student debt in Utah is the lowest in the nation, according to

Average student debt in Utah is $15,509. About 44 percent of students have debt.

left: Satellite image of Salt Lake City.

Do you have a plan to pay it off?
Photo credit: Siddy Lam via

Debt, no matter the size, is a monster that keeps on growing if not taken care of.

Some get into student debt just assuming that a college degree is a magic wand that makes debt disappear. Have a plan.

You might not have a job right away.
Photo credit: National Records and Archives Administration via Wikimedia Commons

You generally have to pay student loans immediately after graduation, but there is no guarantee that you will have a job right after graduation.

left: Waiting for employment is nothing new.

Tuition rates will probably keep on rising.
Image credit: Alan O'Rourke via

When planning for college expenses, keep in mind that tuition rates regularly raise.

Colleges have little incentive to lower tuition rates
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Since more and more young adults are trying to get into college, these institutions have little reason to lower their costs. If you don't pay, someone else will.

Tax Credits
Photo credit: Imzadi1979 via wikimedia commons

Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times reccomends that families look into the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, which is a tax credit on the first $4000 dollars of higher education expenses every year.

left: IRS headquarters

Should students work?
Photo credit: Deseret News

Some students don't have a choice. But whatever the situation may be, a huge factor in college drop-outs is that some students work too much.

Do you study hard and get scholarships, or rely on employment to get through college?

Researchers recommend that students work under 12 hours a week while in school.

left: BYU grounds student employee.

Think about daily expenses.
Photo credit: JohnnyMrNinja via

What are college kids spending their money on? Every purchase matters.

Paying $8 for a burger and fries three times a week for four years comes out to about $5000.

Will you get a grant?
Photo credit: Kathrin Tausch via wikimedia commons

According to, more than nine million students rely on Pell Grants to make it through college.

The final bipartisan debt ceiling agreement provides $17 billion for Pell Grants.

Student debt can delay your life's progression
Photo credit: Deseret News 2011

Student finance expert Mark Kantrowitz warned, in his Washington Post article, that he has found hundreds of in-debt college graduates who have had to postpone everything from career aspirations, houses, and families because student debt looms to large.

left: Marriage ceremony in Salt Lake City.

Your debt should be less than your first year's salary.
Image credit: s_falkow via

According to Mark Kantrowitz, student debt should never be more than one's first year salary.

Read more by Kantrowitz here.

Debt should be less than $10,000 per year of college.
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

While this should rarely be an issue in Utah, attending a private school elsewhere in the nation can be overwhelmingly expensive.

Bankruptcy does nothing to student debt.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 2008, 72,000 federal student loan borrowers filed for bankruptcy, and only 29 individuals were successful, according to a Washington Post article.

left: Student debt can be a road to nowhere.