With a weak economy and ballooning education costs, going to college requires more students to take out loans than ever. It’s a daunting prospect, and the whole process can be pretty confusing, but never fear. Here are a few tips to get you started.

###Exhaust All Other Options

Chances are, you’ll have to take out some college loans—around two-thirds of college students do. Look into grants and scholarships, and make sure you’re using all resources at your disposal.

###Research Different Types of Loans

Odds are, you qualify for several different types of loans, and you should have a good understanding of them. Know the characteristics of different loans, and pick the one that works best for you.

###Know What You Can Expect to Make Once You Graduate

You might not have a major yet, and that’s fine, but you probably have a rough idea of what you’d like to do, and that should be taken into account. Often, you’ll have to start paying off your loans after you have been out of school for a year, and you want to make sure you are going to have enough to live off while beginning to pay off your debts.

###Set a Limit and Stick to It

Taking out college loans may be unavoidable, but you don’t have to be excessive. Determine how much debt you’re willing to take on, and then find alternative means to cover the rest. Take on a part-time job, or maybe even consider a brief stint in the military. It feels like a huge sacrifice now, but the payoff will last your entire life.

College debt is rough. Prices have only grown higher over the past decade, making college often financially intimidating. Here are a few stats you should know:

$26,000 average amount owed per borrower

60% of US college students take out loans to help pay for school

10 Years: The average time it takes to pay off your loans