Student loans are a convenient and affordable way to pay for your education. They’re also an excellent investment in your future. You can use them to pay for tuition, textbooks, and housing costs at any accredited public or private university or college in the United States. Student loans can be used for vocational or career-specific training, too.
But how much do you really know about student loans? Here’s what you need to know about how much student loans give you:
-What types of student loans are available? There are two main types of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education and don’t require a credit check or cosigner; they’re offered in either subsidized or unsubsidized forms (subsidized means the government will pay interest during periods of unemployment). Private lenders offer both federal and private options and require credit checks, cosigners, and sometimes collateral (like property) to secure a loan agreement with them.
-How much do they cost? The cost of borrowing depends on several factors: the type of loan (federal versus private), whether it’s subsidized or unsubsidized, when it was borrowed (new borrower versus current borrower), whether it’s paid
How Much Student Loans
Student loans aren’t limitless. The maximum amount you can borrow depends on factors including whether they’re federal or private loans and your year in school.
Undergraduates can borrow up to $12,500 annually and $57,500 total in federal student loans. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 annually and $138,500 total.
But just because you can borrow that much doesn’t mean you should. To keep higher education affordable, calculate how much you should borrow for college based on your expected future earnings and aim to keep your student borrowing below that amount.
Federal student loan limits
The maximum you can borrow depends on your year in school, your status as a dependent or independent student, and the type of loan. There are three main types of federal student loans: Direct subsidized, direct unsubsidized and direct PLUS.
To apply for federal student loans, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — this FAFSA guide walks you through the process.
Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loan limits
Subsidized loans are for undergraduates only, while unsubsidized loans are available to both undergraduates and graduate students.
There are both annual and aggregate loan limits for these loans. The aggregate limit is the total amount of federal student loan debt you can take on throughout your undergraduate and graduate-level studies. If you reach your total limit, you can take out additional federal student loans if you first pay down your outstanding debt.
|Dependent undergraduate students|
|First year||$5,500 overall; $3,500 subsidized|
|Second year||$6,500 overall; $4,500 subsidized|
|Third year and up||$7,500 overall; $5,500 subsidized|
|Total limit||$31,000 overall; $23,000 subsidized|
|Independent undergraduate students|
|First year||$9,500 overall; $3,500 subsidized|
|Second year||$10,500 overall; $4,500 subsidized|
|Third year and up||$12,500 overall; $5,500 subsidized|
|Total limit||$57,500 overall; $23,000 subsidized|
|Graduate and professional students (unsubsidized only)|
|Total limit||$138,500, including undergraduate loans|
If you’re a dependent student and your parents aren’t eligible for a direct PLUS loans — for example, if they have an adverse credit history — you may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans.
Direct PLUS loan limits
PLUS loans are available to graduate and professional students, and to parents of dependent undergraduate students.
There are no specific caps on PLUS loan borrowing. The maximum amount of PLUS loans you can take out is the school’s cost of attendance minus other financial aid you receive or your child receives. Cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, room and board, and books and other supplies.
Max out federal subsidized and unsubsidized direct loan borrowing before tapping PLUS loans; PLUS loans have higher student loan interest rates.
Private student loan limits
Private student loan limits vary by lender. Generally, the amount you borrow can’t exceed your school’s total cost of attendance.
Max out federal student loan borrowing before taking out private student loans. Federal loans have protections that private loans don’t, including income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.
|Lender||Private student loan minimums and limits|
|Ascent||Non-co-signed future income-based option:Minimum loan amount: $2,001Maximum loan amount: $200,000 (lifetime maximum). Annually, the cost of attendance.Co-signed and non-co-signed credit-based options:Minimum loan amount: $2,001Maximum loan amount: $20,000|
|Citizens Bank||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: $100,000 (lifetime maximum). Annually, the cost of attendance minus financial aid.|
|College Ave||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance minus financial aid.|
|CommonBond||Minimum loan amount: $2,000Maximum loan amount: $500,000 (lifetime maximum). Annually, the school-certified cost of attendance.|
|Discover||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance minus financial aid.|
|Earnest||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance.|
|LendKey||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance minus financial aid.|
|MEFA||Minimum loan amount: $1,500Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance minus financial aid.|
|MPOWER||Minimum loan amount: $2,001Maximum loan amount: $25,000 per semester and $50,000 annually|
|Navy Federal||Minimum: $2,000 Maximum: $120,000 for undergraduates and $160,000 for graduate students.|
|PNC||Minimum: $1,000Maximum: $50,000|
|RISLA||Minimum: $1,500Maximum: $45,000|
|Prodigy Finance||Minimum: $15,000 ($35,000 in certain U.S. states)Maximum: $220,000.|
|Sallie Mae||Minimum loan amount: $1,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance|
|SoFi||Minimum loan amount: $5,000Maximum loan amount: School-certified cost of attendance|
|Custom Choice||Minimum: $1,000Maximum: The school-certified cost of attendance minus other aid, not to exceed $99,000|
student loan calculator
Simple Student Loan Calculator
Please provide any three values below to calculate.
Total Interest: $11,428.92
Total Payments: $41,428.92
Student Loan Repayment Calculator
Use the calculator below to evaluate the student loan payoff options, as well as the interest to be saved. The remaining balance, monthly payment, and interest rate can be found on the monthly student loan bill.
Pay off in 6 years and 2 months
The remaining term of the loan is 9 years and 10 months. By paying an extra $150.00 per month, the loan will be paid off in 6 years and 2 months. It is 3 years and 8 months earlier. This results in savings of $4,421.28 in interest payments.
If Pay Extra $150.00 per month
Remaining Term 6 years and 2 months
Total Payments $36,767.26
Total Interest $6,767.26
The Original Payoff Schedule
Remaining Term 9 years and 10 months
Total Payments $41,188.54
Total Interest $11,188.54
Student Loan Projection Calculator
Use the calculator below to estimate the loan balance and repayment obligation after graduation. This calculator is mainly for those still in college or who haven’t started. Before estimating, it may be helpful to first consult our College Cost Calculator to get a rough idea of how much college may cost.
To Graduate In
Estimated Loan Amount
Do you pay interest during school years?
Amount Borrowed: $40,000.00
Balance After Graduation: $44,263.99
Balance After Grace Period: $45,790.44
Total Interest: $23,234.95
You need to make $45,790 per year or more to repay the loan with less stress.
- The “Grace Period” is the period between the date of graduation and the date that repayment of a student loan must begin.
- For some direct subsidized loans, you do not need to pay interest during school years or the grace period.
- This calculator assumes loans to be repaid each month equally right after graduation or grace period. It also does not take into account any loan fees.