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What Is The Undergraduate Student Loan Limit

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      There are limits to almost everything in life, including how much you can borrow on student loans. Student loan limits are based on a variety of factors, including the type of loan , your year in school, and how much it costs to attend your school of choice.

      Its important to keep in mind that the maximum amount you can borrow isnt necessarily the amount you should borrow. You should only borrow as much as you can expect to be able to pay back under the terms of the loanand the interest rate is part of that calculation. All this makes for a tricky landscape, which starts with knowing whats available.

      Note that as a result of the 2020 economic crisis, the U.S. Department of Education has suspended loan payments, waived interest, and stopped collections through September 30, 2021.

      Maximum Allowable Loan Amounts For Federal Stafford Loans

      Students borrowing a Federal Stafford loan, including subsidized and/or unsubsidized, are subject to the following loan limits:

      • Annual Maximum Loan Limit: Restricts the total amount of Stafford loans that may be borrowed during a single academic year .
      • The combined total cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid or the maximum academic year amount allowable by law, whichever is less.
    • Aggregate Maximum Loan Limit: Restricts the total amount of Stafford loans that may be borrowed over a students college career.
    • Please note: First-time undergraduate borrowers on or after July 1, 2013, have a limit on the period of time they may receive subsidized Stafford loans. The time period is measured in academic years.

      The maximum annual amount you can borrow in federal subsidized and/or unsubsidized loan is determined by your grade level and dependency status. Learn more about your dependency status by visiting our Dependency Status Page.

      Annual Maximum Loan Limits

      Minimum And Maximum Loan Periods

      The minimum period for which a school may originate a Direct Loan varies depending on the schools academic calendar:

      • For credit-hour programs with standard terms , or with SE9W nonstandard terms, the minimum loan period is a single academic term. For example, if a student will be enrolled in the fall semester only and will skip the spring semester, you may originate a loan with a loan period that covers only the fall term. The loan amount must be based on the reduced costs and EFC for that term, rather than for the full academic year.

      • For all other programs , the minimum loan period is generally the lesser of the program length or the academic year. There are exceptions to this minimum loan period rule when originating loans for transfer students, or for students who complete or otherwise cease enrollment in one program and then begin a different program at the same school. We discuss these exceptions in detail later in this chapter.

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      Prorating Loan Limits For Remaining Periods Of Study Shorter Than Academic Year

      You must also prorate loan limits for students enrolled in remaining periods of study shorter than an academic year. This circumstance can occur when a student is enrolled in a program that is one academic year or more in length, but the remaining period of study needed to complete the program will be shorter than an academic year. Proration is required only when it is known in advance that a student will be enrolled for a final period of study that is shorter than an academic year. If a student originally enrolls for a final period of study that is a full academic year in length, but completes the program early in less than a full academic year, it is not necessary to retroactively prorate the annual loan limit.

      In a standard term program, or a credit-hour program using SE9W nonstandard terms, a remaining period of study is considered shorter than an academic year if the remaining period contains fewer terms than the number of terms covered by the schools Title IV academic year. For programs that are offered in an SAY, the number of terms covered in the schools Title IV academic year usually does not include a summer header or trailer term.

      For all types of programs, where there is a remaining period of study less than an academic year, the annual loan limit for the students grade level is multiplied by the following fraction to determine the prorated loan limit:

      Subsidized And Unsubsidized Loan Limits

      How to borrow your student loans responsibly

      The amount you can borrow through the Federal Direct Loan Program is determined by your dependency status and classification in college. The annual and aggregate loan limits are listed in the charts below.

      Undergraduate Annual Loan Limits
      Health Professions* Aggregate Loan Limits$224,000

      * Some professional students may be eligible for increased unsubsidized loan limits. Contact your adviser to determine if you are eligible.

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      Federal Borrowing Limits For Independent Undergraduates

      Year in school

      If youre married, over the age of 24, a military veteran, or supporting yourself, youre considered an independent student. If youre independent of your parents, you can borrow a little more up to $12,500 a year, and $57,500 in total. But you cant take out more than $23,000 in subsidized loans as an undergraduate.

      Undergraduate Federal Loan Limits

      Federal undergraduate loans have various limits, depending on the type of loan, what year of school the student is applying for, as well as whether the student is considered a dependent or independent. An undergraduate student is considered independent if he or she meets any one of the criteria below:

      • Is married
      • Will be 24 years old before January 1 of the school year for which theyre applying
      • Has been legally emancipated from parents or guardians
      • Has a child or dependent
      • Is on active duty or a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
      • Was orphaned or in foster care after age 13
      • Was determined to be an unaccompanied/homeless youth

      Once you know if you are borrowing as a dependent or independent undergraduate student, review the tables below to see how much you can borrow each year you are enrolled.

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      Using Schools Definition Of Academic Year If Longer Than The Title Iv Minimum

      A school may choose to define its academic year as longer in weeks or hours than the minimum statutory requirements. If so, the schools standard not the statutory minimum determines whether a program or a final period of study is shorter than an academic year.

      Jill is a dependent student enrolled in a 400 clock-hour, 12-week program at Epstein Career College . ECC defines the academic year for this program as 900 clock-hours and 26 weeks of instructional time.

      To determine the maximum loan amount she can borrow, convert the fractions based on weeks and hours to decimals. Multiply the smaller decimal by the combined Direct Subsidized Loan and Direct Unsubsidized Loan annual loan limit for a first-year dependent undergraduate :

      $5,500 x 0.44 = $2,420 combined subsidized/unsubsidized prorated annual loan limit

      To determine the maximum portion of the $2,420 prorated annual loan limit that Jill may receive in subsidized loan funds, multiply the maximum subsidized annual loan limit of $3,500 by the smaller decimal :

      $3,500 x 0.44 = $1,540 subsidized prorated annual loan limit

      The maximum combined Direct Subsidized Loan and Direct Unsubsidized Loan amount Jill can borrow for the program is $2,420, but no more than $1,540 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

      $9,500 x 0.67 = $6,365 combined subsidized/unsubsidized prorated annual loan limit

      $3,500 x 0.67 = $2,345 subsidized prorated annual loan limit

      Visit Your Colleges Financial Aid Office

      Understanding Direct PLUS Student Loans

      For students or parents who are facing educational costs they cant cover or are nearing either annual or aggregate student loan limits, there is help.

      If they suspect the loan amount will not cover all costs, they should reach out to the colleges office of financial aid to discuss this, Moon said. If the loan amount does not cover the cost of attending the university, then there are options the university can offer.

      For instance, Moon said, a university might be able to offer institutional need- or merit-based aid. Students or families might also be able to get on a payment plan for tuition or college costs and avoid a loan.

      Even if you dont think you qualify for more aid, you should make the effort. Make an appointment, meet in person and be prepared to describe your situation and any extenuating circumstances.

      Explain why you need and should receive additional aid. The human element can make all the difference.

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      What Is The Difference Between A Fixed Interest Rate And Variable Interest Rate

      • A fixed interest rate is set during the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan.
      • A variable interest rate may change quarterly during the life of the loan, if the 3-Month LIBOR changes. This may cause the monthly payment to increase, the number of payments to increase, or both.

      What Are My Repayment Options

      • In-School Interest-Only – Required to make interest only monthly payments while you are in school and during your grace period to lower your overall loan cost and receive a 0.35% interest rate discount.
      • In-School Fixed – Required to make $25 fixed, monthly payments while you are in school and during your grace period to lower your overall loan cost.
      • Deferred – Monthly payments are not required until 6 months after you graduate or your enrollment drops below half-time.

      You can make payments anytime to help reduce the overall cost of your loan and there is never a penalty for prepaying. If you’re not receiving monthly billing statements, we will send you quarterly statements showing you how much interest is accruing and how to make optional payments while you are in school.

      The table below compares federal and private;student loans for undergraduate students.

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      Federal Borrowing Limits For Graduate Students


      Your federal borrowing limits are higher if youre working on a masters or doctorate program, including an M.A., MBA, M.D., J.D., or Ph.D.

      The annual borrowing limit for grad students is $20,500 a year, and you can borrow up to $138,500 in total, including the loans you took out as an undergraduate. Since July 1, 2012, grad students arent eligible to take out subsidized loans anymore. But its possible for grad students who took them out before then to have up to $65,500 in subsidized loans.

      Medical school students can take out up to $224,000 in federal loans before turning to grad PLUS or private student loans. For most medical school students, the annual borrowing limit on the more affordable federal student loans is $40,500.

      Learn More: Graduate Student Loan Limits: How Much Can You Get?

      How Much Should You Borrow


      The low borrowing limits and interest rates on the most affordable federal loans for undergrads mean that most borrowers who finish their degrees can repay them.

      But if you go on to grad school, its easier to take on the level of student loan debt thats more difficult to repay. The higher limits on PLUS loans can saddle you with six-figure loan debt.

      You can use the Department of Educations College Scorecard to get an idea of how much debt its reasonable to take on with the degree you are pursuing.


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      Direct Loans At Multiple Schools

      Unlike Pell Grants, it is possible for a student who is concurrently enrolled and eligible at more than one school to receive Direct Loans at each school. If the student is receiving Direct Subsidized Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, the schools that the student is attending are responsible for coordinating to make sure that the total amount of the loans the student receives does not exceed the applicable annual or aggregate loan limit. In addition, the schools must ensure that there is no duplication of non-institutional costs when determining the students cost of attendance.

      Choose More Affordable Options

      If youve maximized your scholarship and grant potential and dont qualify for work-study, consider more affordable options. Some small-scale changes include opting to rent or buy used textbooks instead of new, living off campus or getting roommates. You can also consider transferring to an in-state school, trying out an online program or dropping to half-time enrollment while you work a part-time job.

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      Direct Subsidized And Unsubsidized Federal Student Loan Limits

      Subsidized and;unsubsidized loans;are capped at $31,000 through four years of an undergraduate education if youre a dependent student. As an;independent;undergraduate student, you can borrow up to $57,500 towards your undergraduate degree.;

      Dependent;undergraduate students;can borrow up to $5,500 as a first-year student, depending on;financial need.;Independent students, or those whose parents have been denied a;direct;PLUS loan;, can borrow up to $9,500 per year. For each of four years of school, you can borrow an additional $1,000 every;academic year. Regardless of whether or not you depend on your parents, only $23,000 of your;federal student loans;will be subsidized.;

      Additionally, you cant borrow more than the schools;cost of attendance. Students can only receive;direct subsidized loans;during a maximum eligibility period. This is equal to 150% of the published length of the;degree program. For example, you can only take out loans for six years if youre enrolled in a four-year bachelors program.;

      Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in;federal loans;each year. You can borrow a maximum of $138,500 as a graduate student, but that figure includes money youve borrowed as an undergraduate, too. ;All;federal;loan;programs;available to graduate students are unsubsidized.;

      Annual And Lifetime Loan Maximums

      How does the student loan debt interest tax deduction work?

      Annual loan amounts may be limited based on other financial aid received and your cost of attendance while enrolled. Your total student aid, including loans, may not exceed your Cost of Attendance, even if you have not reached the annual loan maximum.

      The following table outlines maximum annual and career/aggregate loan limits for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

      ;Dependent Undergraduate Student with a Parent PLUS Loan denial*Independent Undergraduate StudentGraduate and Professional Degree Student


      A maximum of $3,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $3,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $3,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $4,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $4,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $4,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $5,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $5,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $5,500 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $23,000 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $23,000 may be subsidized


      A maximum of $23,000 may be subsidized


      The graduate debt limit includes Direct Loans received for undergraduate study.

      Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan maximum eligibility for Teacher Certification is $12,500 for the academic year. Due to federal statute, eligibility is based on fifth-year undergraduate loan limits, even though you are required to have a bachelor’s degree and your admission is administered by the Penn State Graduate School.

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      Student Loan Borrowing Limits In 2021 Edvisors

      Federal Student Loan Limits Most private student loans have aggregate loan limits of $75,000 to $120,000 for undergraduate students and higher limits for;

      Exceeding Loan Limits. When you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid , the National Student Loan Data System reported that;

      Effect Of Change In Student Status On Aggregate Loan Limits

      In some cases, a student may qualify for higher loan limits, but then lose eligibility for the higher limits due to a change in status. One such situation is when a dependent undergraduate qualifies for increased Direct Unsubsidized Loan amounts because the students parent is unable to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan, but in a subsequent academic year the students parent is able to qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan. The dependent student then loses eligibility to receive Direct Unsubsidized Loans at the higher independent undergraduate annual and aggregate loan limits, and is once again subject to the dependent undergraduate annual and aggregate loan limits. However, the increased unsubsidized loan amounts that the student previously received as a result of the parents inability to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan are not counted against the dependent undergraduate aggregate loan limit .

      A similar situation occurs when a student who received loans for a graduate or professional degree program later returns to school and enrolls in an undergraduate program. In this case, loan amounts that the student received as a graduate or professional student are not counted against the undergraduate aggregate loan limit. For more detailed information and an example, see the discussion under Undergraduate student with graduate degree earlier in this chapter.

      1st year = $9,500

      2nd year = $10,500

      3rd year = $12,500

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      Graduate Federal Loan Limits

      If you are applying for graduate or professional school federal loan programs, your only option is unsubsidized loans and you can borrow up to $20,500 annually. The aggregate loan limit is $138,500 which includes your undergraduate federal loan balance.

      Direct PLUS loans, which are another type of federal loan available to graduate students only, do not have the same limitsbut also have higher rates than regular federal student loans.

      Annual Loan Limits For Preparatory Coursework And Teacher Certification Programs

      Aggregate limits for undergraduate loans

      In Volume 1, Chapters 1 and 6, we discussed instances in whicha student may receive Direct Loans for coursework that is not part of an eligible program . The annual loan limits for students enrolled in preparatory coursework or teacher certification programs are shown in the chart below.

      For more detailed guidance on the eligibility of students to receive Direct Loans and other Title IV aid for teacher certification programs, see Dear Colleague Letter GEN-16-10.

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