I agree with Yvonne Ruffner. If you start to pay on the loans while in school, and before they are officially due, you are paying on the principal (which is the actual loan balance). Once you graduate, the loans become active and due, so whatever you pay may primarily go to interest until you make a good dent in them. If you can swing paying on them while in school, I recommend it. Since the school is private, they may have some financial aid options available for you. Visit the financial aid office right away and look into them. Some options will include: partial scholarships, financial aid (pell grants), work study programs, etc. If you can do these then this will cover some of the debts and you can take out less in school loans. Also look into private scholarships to reduce your loan burden from websites such as www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships.com. If you are able to work part-time while in school then this can be an additional option to paying for school and keeping your loans down too.