Taking on any debt isn't ideal. However, student loans may be the one thing that will make your collegiate dreams possible. Therefore, it bears getting to know student loans now so you can decide which solutions are best for your situation. 1. Student loans are part of the financial aid package. Most people correlate financial aid with grants and scholarships – or free help – but student loans are also part of the package. They technically serve as help to pay for school, regardless of the fact that they must be paid back after graduation. When you receive your financial aid package from each school, don’t assume that everything listed is grants or scholarships. Look carefully at each item, and call your school’s financial aid office if you have questions. 2. There are two types of federal student loans. Federal loans fall into two categories: subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized student loans are reserved for students that have financial aid, and the federal government pays the interest while you’re in school. Unsubsidized student loans are available to all students, regardless of financial need. However, students are responsible for paying all interest on the loans. To be eligible for both of these loan options, students and their families must submit a FAFSA. 3. If federal student loans don’t cover the cost, look into private loans. Though you may be awarded federal student loans in your financial aid package, they still might not cover the total cost of attendance. To find a private student loan, contact your school’s financial aid office and ask about their preferred lender list. This list is put together by the schools and offers a comprehensive look at who they work with, which might be helpful as you navigate the private loan arena. 4. Loan payments aren’t due immediately after graduation. Fortunately for borrowers, graduation does not bring an onslaught of student loan bills. Rather, you’ll get a six-month grace period during which no payments need to be made. This allows borrowers to find employment before they have to take on monthly loan payments. 5. There is such a thing as student loan forgiveness. Student loans can be forgiven – but you have to meet quite a few requirements. Forgiveness requires that you have a job serving in the public sector with government organizations, not-for-profits and other types of qualifying public services like law enforcement, teaching and military service. 6. Student loans can’t be dissolved through bankruptcy. While most debts can be terminated through bankruptcy, student loans cannot. They are with you for life – that is, until you pay them off. It should be noted that if you stop making payments on your student loans, the federal government has the right to start taking your wages from work in order to pay the debt. It’s best to make the payments on time and consecutively. 7. Don’t borrow more than you can realistically handle. Here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t borrow more than your starting annual salary. Research potential careers and their salaries with salary.com and use that data to set a ceiling for borrowing. Borrowing more than what you expect to make will result in paying off more debt for many, many years. Essentially, don’t take on more than you can handle. Student loans should not be taken lightly. Getting to know them sooner rather than later can help you plan better for borrowing and repaying. Fortunately, Fastweb provides plenty of student loan help – get expert answers here.