Millions of high school graduates will finalize the biggest financial decision of their young lives Monday, if they haven't done so already: where to attend college.
The choice will carry a hefty price for many students and their families. For the 2016-2017 academic year, the average all-in cost of one year at a public university was $20,090 and more than double that — $45,370 — at a private college, according to the College Board.
People have turned to student loans to pay for college costs that are rising faster than the overall rate of inflation. Last year, 42.4 million Americans owed $1.3 trillion in federal student loans and more than 4.2 million borrowers were in default.
You and your children can avoid that debt trap. Here is a four-step strategy to figure out how the choice you make on College Decision Day will affect your student debt load.