Last Updated on May 23, 2022
Student loans can be a huge burden, especially when you’re trying to pay them off while also trying to live in the real world. But how much can you get for student loans?
It’s important to understand that the amount you can get depends on your specific situation, as well as on what kind of loan you have. In this article, we’ll go over how much you can get for student loans and what factors affect it.
The amount of money you can borrow for student loans depends on a number of factors. Your family’s income, the cost of your school and your academic performance are among these factors.
The cost of attending college is a major factor that determines how much you can borrow for student loans. The federal government has set an annual limit on what it will pay for tuition, room and board, and other expenses at different types of schools. These limits are called “cost of attendance” (COA) allowances. For example, if you’re attending a public university, your COA allowance will be higher than if you attend a private university with similar costs and academic offerings.
Your family situation may also affect how much you can borrow. If your parents make less than $50,000 per year combined, they may qualify for additional aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Eligibility for assistance from the federal government is based on both income and assets; families with more assets may be required to pay back more in loans after graduation than those who have fewer assets available to them when calculating repayment amounts later down the road (or at all).
How Much Can I Get For 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.
» MORE: Your guide to financial aid
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.
The amount of money you can borrow in federal student loans depends on your student status. If you are an undergraduate, the maximum amount of Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans you can borrow each academic year is between $5,500 and $12,500, depending on your year in school and your dependency status (whether you are a dependent or independent student). A parent can also borrow a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for the educational costs of a dependent undergraduate student. If you are a graduate/professional student, the maximum amount you can borrow each academic year is $20,500 in Direct Unsubsidized Loans. A graduate/professional student is also eligible to borrow a Direct PLUS Loan. The maximum Direct PLUS Loan amount that a parent or graduate/professional student may borrow is the cost of attendance, minus other financial aid received.
student loan calculator
Make extra payments to pay off student loans faster. If you can free up more money for payments right now, you can cut down the total interest you pay, too.
Use this student loan payoff calculator to determine your debt-free date, then see how much time and money you could save by making extra student loan payments. You can see an amortization schedule as well.
|Average National Student Debt$28,400||Total Monthly Payment$297|
If you refinance your loans at a 3.66% rate then your loan payments will be $163 lower a year. See Refinance Rates
|LOAN||LOAN AMOUNT||INTEREST RATE||LOAN TERM||MONTHLY PREPAYMENT||MONTHLY PAYMENT|
College is supposed to be fun, right? Hollywood sure thinks so: in movies like Old School, Legally Blonde and Accepted, it’s one-half wild parties, one-half intellectual and emotional discovery. But that’s Hollywood—the schools themselves paint a different, but equally attractive picture. Open any admissions office pamphlet and you’ll find students lounging cheerfully in grassy campus spaces; friendly, approachable professors chatting with small clusters of adoring undergrads; clean, peaceful dormitories; and constantly perfect weather.
While both of these portrayals contain some truth (there are parties; the weather is nice sometimes), there’s one aspect of college that is often left out, or at least pushed to the sidelines: the price tag. While it’s no secret that getting a degree has grown more expensive in recent years, the numbers are nonetheless surprising. The cost of tuition and fees at public four year institutions increased by 17% over the past five years alone, according to data from The College Board.
Before using the student loan calculator above, come prepared with a few pieces of information about your loan.
Loan amounts vary depending on whether you’re exploring a federal or private student loan. The loan amount you’re offered might also be limited based on your enrollment level (e.g., undergraduate versus graduate or professional student) or degree program.
Federal student loan amounts
- Direct Subsidized Loans: Up to $5,500 annually.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Up to $12,500 annually.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Up to $20,500 annually.
- Direct PLUS Loans: Up to the school’s reported cost of attendance, minus other financial aid received.
Parents of dependent undergraduate students:
- Parent PLUS loans: Up to the school’s reported cost of attendance, minus other financial aid received.
Private student loan amounts
Loan amounts for private student loans can vary by lender. Each lender sets its own borrowing criteria, annual borrowing limits, interest rates and repayment terms. In general, private student loan lenders offer loan amounts that cover the gap between a school’s cost of attendance and any other financial aid a student receives. Some lenders also impose lifetime borrowing limits, which may be up to $150,000 or more for some degrees. Regardless of whether you borrow federal or private student loans, borrow only the amount you need per school year after exhausting all grant and scholarship options. If you must take out loans to finance educational gaps, consider maximizing federal student loan limits before turning to a private student loan, as federal student loans come with additional benefits like income-driven repayment plans and standardized hardship programs.
Your loan term is the amount of time you have to repay the loan in full. For federal student loans under a standard repayment plan, the default loan term is 10 years. However, student loans that are under an alternative payment plan offer terms from 10 to 25 years. Like private student loan amounts, private student loan repayment terms vary by lender. Terms for private student loans can be as short as five years and as long as 20 years. A shorter loan term can help you save more money on interest charges during your repayment period but result in a larger monthly payment. Some lenders offer lower interest rates as an incentive for a short term length. On the flip side, a longer term for your student loans will lower your monthly payment but will accumulate more interest charges over time. Before borrowing student loans, make sure you know all of the term options your lender offers so you can choose the right path for your financial needs.
The interest rate you’re offered depends on the type of lender you’re pursuing and your financial picture. Federal student loans offer the same interest rate to all borrowers, regardless of credit score or income. Private student loans, on the other hand, will often do a credit check and set interest rates according to your creditworthiness. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates. Keep in mind that the lowest interest rates advertised on lender websites may not be available to you. To find out what interest rates you’ll receive, take advantage of lenders’ prequalification features, if available. Prequalification allows you to input basic details about yourself and your desired loan in exchange for a snapshot of the rates and terms offered.
For many students, the only way to stay atop this rising tide has been by taking on an increasing amount of student loans. The result has been skyrocketing student loan debt over the past decade.
Not so fun, that – but don’t get discouraged. Sure, some recent graduates have student loan horror-stories to tell: high debt, low job prospects and a load of other expenses to boot; and others have simply stopped bothering to make loan payments at all (the total number of people with defaulted student loans recently climbed to over 7 million). Many graduates, however, find their debt to be manageable, and, in the long run, worthwhile.
The important thing is to know in advance what you’re getting yourself into. By looking at a student loan calculator, you can compare the costs of going to different schools. Variables like your marital status, age and how long you will be attending (likely four years if you are entering as a freshman, two years if you are transferring as a junior, etc.) go into the equation. Then with some financial information like how much you (or your family) will be able to contribute each year and what scholarships or gifts you’ve already secured, the student loan payment calculator can tell you what amount of debt you can expect to take on and what your costs will be after you graduate – both on a monthly basis and over the lifetime of your loans. Of course how much you will pay will also depend on what kind of loans you choose to take out.
student loan forgiveness
If you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Keep reading to see whether you might qualify.
To ensure you’re on the right track, you should submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application (PSLF Form) annually or when you change employers. We’ll use the information you provide on the form to let you know if you are making qualifying PSLF payments. This will help you determine if you’re on the right track as early as possible.
*This provision will be waived through October 31, 2022 as part of the limited PSLF waiver. Learn more.
Suspended Payments Count Toward PSLF and TEPSLF During the COVID-19 Administrative Forbearance
If you have a Direct Loan and work full-time for a qualifying employer during the payment suspension (administrative forbearance), then you will receive credit toward PSLF or TEPSLF for the period of suspension as though you made on-time monthly payments in the correct amount while on a qualifying repayment plan.
To see these qualifying payments reflected in your account, you must submit a PSLF form certifying your employment for the same period of time as the suspension. Your count of qualifying payments toward PSLF is officially updated only when you update your employment certifications.
Digital signatures from you or your employer must be hand-drawn (from a signature pad, mouse, finger, or by taking a picture of a signature drawn on a piece of paper that you then scan and embed on the signature line of the PSLF form) to be accepted. Typed signatures, even if made to mimic a hand-drawn signature, or security certificate-based signatures are not accepted.
Note: In-grace, in-school, and certain deferment, forbearance, and bankruptcy statuses are not eligible for credit toward PSLF.
Have questions? Find out what loans qualify and get additional information about student loan flexibilities due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Qualifying employment for the PSLF Program isn’t about the specific job that you do for your employer. Instead, it’s about who your employer is. Employment with the following types of organizations qualifies for PSLF:
- Government organizations at any level (U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal) – this includes the U.S. military
- Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
Serving as a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteer also counts as qualifying employment for the PSLF Program.
The following types of employers don’t qualify for PSLF:
- Labor unions
- Partisan political organizations
- For-profit organizations, including for-profit government contractors
Contractors: You must be directly employed by a qualifying employer for your employment to count toward PSLF. If you’re employed by an organization that is doing work under a contract with a qualifying employer, it is your employer’s status—not the status of the organization that your employer has a contract with—that determines whether your employment qualifies for PSLF. For example, if you’re employed by a for-profit contractor that is doing work for a qualifying employer, your employment does not count toward PSLF.
Other types of not-for-profit organizations: If you work for a not-for-profit organization that is not tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, it can still be considered a qualifying employer if it provides certain types of qualifying public services.
For PSLF, you’re generally considered to work full-time if you meet your employer’s definition of full-time or work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.
If you are employed in more than one qualifying part-time job at the same time, you will be considered full-time if you work a combined average of at least 30 hours per week with your employers.
If you are employed by a not-for-profit organization, time spent on religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing as a part of your job responsibilities may be counted toward meeting the full-time employment requirement.
Any loan received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program qualifies for PSLF.
Loans from these federal student loan programs don’t qualify for PSLF: the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program. However, they may become eligible if you consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF.
Under normal PSLF Program rules, if you consolidate your loans, only qualifying payments that you make on the new Direct Consolidation Loan can be counted toward the 120 payments required for PSLF. Any payments you made on the loans before you consolidated them don’t count. However, if you consolidate these loans into a Direct Loan before October 31, 2022, you may be able to receive qualifying credit for payments made on those loans through the limited PSLF waiver.