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Cindy Forbes Cameron of the U.S. Department of Education has suggestions for how to keep your student debt—or your child's student debt—under control.

One approach, says Cameron, is to start saving as early as possible; go to for advice on ways to get started, such as opening a 529 plan while your child is still young.

Older students should take into account the schools they are applying to. Ask yourself these questions: Is the school affordable for you? What major are you considering? What's the starting salary like? Will it allow you to make the monthly loan payments?

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And Cameron has a good rule of thumb for figuring out whether you can afford to pay off a certain level of debt.