If you’ve chosen to join the MMS Class of 2013, congratulations and welcome to Team Fuqua! An important aspect of your education is figuring out how you’re going to finance it. My posting isn’t a how-to guide on the different sources of loans, grants and scholarships. Instead, I’ve chosen to summarize important general principles to keep in mind.

I think the first and probably most important thing to figure out, especially if you’re taking out loans, is how much you really need. Are you intending to take out a loan to cover just your tuition? Will your loan cover living expenses as well? If the latter is true, it may be worthwhile to create a monthly budget of rent, utilities, gas and other related expenses. Check out the estimated living expenses online. Remember loans accrue interest, so it’s important not to take out more than you need.

To cover your basic daily expenses, it may be beneficial to look into on-campus employment. I’ve held an on-campus job, but you should only pursue this option if you believe you can balance a part-time job with your academics—it’s not for everyone. The Duke Student Employment website has a number of on-campus openings.

Loans, in of themselves, are not bad. In fact, for many they are the only way to finance higher education. But it’s important to remember that too much of any good thing can be bad for you.