Finals are right around the corner, and beyond that, graduation - but the specter of student loans looms over all of the celebration for many graduates.
"My parents just told me that, 'yeah we're going to take out a loan,' and that I'm just going to have to pay it off after college," explained Illinois State University freshman Tyler Short.
The Federal Reserve reports that student loan debt in the U.S. amounts to over 1.4 trillion dollars, and that nearly three quarters of all students have some kind of debt after getting that diploma.
And, though they have 'student' written on them, loans are a family issue - and parents' credit history can affect their kids, for better or worse.
"Certain programs require a co-borrower or a co-signer," explains Bob Mueller, Vice-President of Morton Community Bank, "and in that case you're looking at everyone's credit score."
Mueller stresses the importance of doing research into what programs you or your kids are signing up for, and how much financial aid their school can supply.
One of the biggest pieces of advice everyone agrees on: start early, and make payments often, because every cent adds up.
ISU's Financial Aid office says the best defense against steep loans is a good offense.
"The old rule used to be, you save for 10, 15 years before school rather than repaying something for 10, 15, 20 years after school," said David Kreuger, Associate Director of the ISU Financial Aid office.
If you haven't started planning for loans yet, it's advised to talk with the school financial aid office, apply for federal student aid, and look for low-interest loans.