A father and daughter go over finances.

For many college-bound students, savings, family contributions, scholarships, grants and a part-time job won’t be enough to pay for college, and borrowing may be the only way to make up the difference.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that more than 60 percent of America’s 20 million college students rely on student loans to finance their education. A college student today graduates with an average of $24,301 in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While many students believe that loans are worth the investment in their future, a growing number of borrowers are defaulting on their student loan debt.

To help parents and students learn more about college financing,, a website for free legal information, offers a free, downloadable mini-guide on student loan debt. Here are some additional tips:

Start early. From the moment your child is born, start putting away a little bit each month toward education. Use a state-run 529 plan or an IRA Coverdell account to save for college education tax-free.

Apply to colleges you can afford: Carefully weigh the costs and benefits of an expensive school to…