First off, your attitude is awesome! Second, since the first poster listed some ways to save money to pay down debt, I'll touch on some of the most important things about paying back your loans.
It's important to know what kinds of loans that you have. Certain loans (namely, direct subsidized loans) have the interest charges paid by the government while you're in school (and for a little bit afterwards). Therefore, there's less of a benefit in paying down those loans. Most other loans don't require payments while you are in school; however, the interest is "capitalized" or applied for the entire time you were in college. Also, you may have multiple loans that carry different rates. Generally, paying down loans with higher interest rates will reduce your total payment. The takeaway is that it's important to decide which loans are most important to pay down, and in what order.
When you graduate, you may still have loans. There are multiple different options to repay them, including a variety of income-driven repayment plans. All of these are different and your circumstances when you graduate (income, marital status, etc.) will greatly affect whether or not these plans make sense for you.
If you decide to work for the government or a non-profit, you can also apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) which is another income-driven plan with significant benefits.
Adam recommends the following next steps:
- Create a list of your loans and create a priority list for paying them off.
- Research income-driven repayment plans.