NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The end of April signals a big decision for millions of high school seniors: What college or university will they call home for the next four years?
In most cases, their parents will have a big say, as in many cases they'll be paying for that college education.
It's also a big time of year for graduating college seniors, who'll enter the "real world" and start paying back their student loans.
Both groups -- high school and college seniors -- will need all the help they can get in dealing with increasingly burdensome student loan debt.
According to the Project on Student Debt, 2012 college graduates owe an average $29,400 in student loan debt. That's up from $18,750 in 2004.
"For many 2012 graduates, their college years came during a time of increasing college costs and stagnant family resources. State budget cuts led to sharp tuition increases at many public colleges, increasing students' need to borrow," says he project's report, sponsored by the Institute for College Access & Success.
The best way to handle heavier student loan debt is to better understand that debt. College grads need to weed out the myths and focus on the realities of student loan if they're going to pay off those loans as soon as possible, says one college loan expert.
"A college education is a major investment, and most people today must borrow money or take out student loans to help cover the costs," says Mike Sullivan, chief education officer for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit financial education that councils college students and graduates on student loan debt. "Students are right to be concerned, but simply understanding the truth about your loans will make a huge difference now and in the future."