Are you in college, a current graduate, or still paying off student loans?

1 in 4 American are affected by student debt and experts say it's best to start paying them back as soon as you can.

Directors at Edinboro University tell Erie News Now over 85% of their students take out some type of loan and they say it's important to understand what it is you're taking out before signing your name.

Most college students don't have the time to be working full time while attending school so how can you keep up with the loans while in college?

 "They need to know the difference between what is free and grant money that they don't have to pay back verses loan money that they have to pay back", said Shari Gould, Director of Student Accounts at Edinboro University.

Officials suggest an on campus job. Some students at Edinboro say they put that paycheck from working on campus jobs directly to their student debt.

Financial aid also suggest putting refund checks straight to your schooling instead of buying that new item like a phone.

Other advice they tell Erie News Now is dropping as many loans as you can but most importantly not waiting until you graduate from college to figure out how much you will owe.

"I mean I have no idea where it is, I mean I'm just taking out the money and it's getting paid and it really doesn't go through me so I really don't know what is going on honestly", says Edinboro Student, Mollie Yonc.

For graduates directors say it's best advice would be to keep up with payments.

"And a lot of time students are very shocked to realize they took out loans let alone the amount of loans they took out", said Kelly Vitell, Director of Financial Aid at Edinboro. "We do show them the amount how it was applied to their account and at that point we go over the different repayment options with them".

Edinboro offers soon to be graduates to sit down with financial advisers and go over the loans they took out and when the payment begins.

Officials say if you have questions about any loans to simply ask your college or the loan provider.

A tip on paying back student loans is if you have extra money at the end of the month to put it away towards another loan so if money is tight the following month you are still staying on track.

Advisers say while online financing tools are helpful be sure to look at all the details because you could be paying back a lot more money in the long run.