If you're ready to go to college, but worried about making ends meet, consider student loans.
Step 1: Fill out a FAFSA Fill out a FAFSA -- Free Application For Student Aid -- online to determine if you are eligible for government loans. The government offers subsidized and unsubsidized loans -- neither will need to be paid back until you are finished with school.
TIP: The FAFSA will also be an excellent tool to help you find government grants, but don't forget to search out private scholarship opportunities. They will save you a ton in the future.
Step 2: Meet requirements Determine if you meet the requirement for a government student loan. You must be enrolled in an eligible program, maintain good academic standing, not have any other government student loans in default, be registered for the Selective Service, and not be convicted of a crime.
Step 3: Get a private loan Get a private loan if you are not eligible for a government loan. Credit unions can often be an excellent alternative to banks, so check out several institutions before settling on one.
TIP: If you have bad credit or are not qualified, you may need a cosigner for a private loan.
Step 4: Talk to a counselor Talk to your financial aid counselor about funding your education. Whatever you do, don't let money -- or lack of it -- keep you from getting an excellent education.
FACT: The average student will graduate with approximately $23,000 in student loan debt.