Interest rates on government-subsidized Stafford loans could increase from 3.4 to 6.8 percent this summer, unless Congress acts to stop the change. Lawmakers halted the jump last year, but there is no guarantee that the same will happen this time.

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The move would not affect current loans. It would apply to loans taken out for 2013-2014 school year, possibly affecting the choices of many Jersey families.

"It's a difficult time for students and families because the price of education is just getting almost untenable for your average family," said Leslie Beck, Vice President of Compass Wealth Management in Maplewood.

She said financial planners like herself are making a bold recommendation to students - conduct a return calculation before attending a certain college, and try to figure out if the debt you're getting into is worth the outcome. Students should ask themselves if a high-priced college will truly produce better career results than a reasonably-priced institution.

Beck also suggested students become more creative in how they fund their college education.

"What we're seeing now - a lot of students are going to big-name schools, but during the summertime, they're taking credits in local schools that are transferable," she explained.

Many student loans start accruing interest on the day they're approved, meaning students get pushed deeper and deeper into debt before they can graduate and start paying it off.

President Barack Obama recently proposed taking the power of student loan interest rates out of the hands of Congress, tying them to market rates instead.