How Much Can You Get In Student Loans

Kreg Bale
Kreg Bale July 14, 2021
Updated 2022/08/09 at 5:26 AM
How Much Can You Get In Student Loans

With student loans, it’s possible to borrow the total amount of your college education. However, the exact cost depends on the type of student loan you borrow. It also depends on your year of school and your dependency status.

Independent and dependent undergraduate students can borrow up to a maximum of $57,000 and $31,000 in federal student loans, respectively. And several private student loans offer lifetime limits.

However, no matter the maximum student loan amount, it’s advisable only to borrow what you need. And that’s because the more you borrow, the more interest will accumulate. If you want to get an estimate, you need to borrow, add up fees and tuition, books, housing, supplies, and dining expenses.

Of course, you still need to know the limits of federal student loans and many more. So keep on reading to find out more.

How Much Can You Get In Federal Student Loans?

Using standard limits on federal loans, the attendance cost, and your FAFSA information, your college determines how much you can qualify to borrow in federal loans. The amount of student loans you take depends on the following:

  • The cost of enrolling in the school
  • The year in school
  • Your dependency status (whether you’re a dependent or independent student)

There are three primary types of federal student loans:

  1. Direct Subsidized Loans. This type of loan is open to undergraduate students with financial needs. The U.S. Education Department takes care of the interest costs while you enroll in a school or during deferment periods.


  1. Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Available to graduate and undergraduate students, no matter the financial situation.


  1. Direct PLUS Loans. This loan is available to graduate students and parents, regardless of financial need.

Each of these types of student loans comes with its limits.


Undergraduate Federal Student Loan Limits

You’re a dependent student that means your parents financially support you. The limits for federal student loans for dependent students are $5,500 to $7,500 annually. And it goes up to a lifetime limit of $31,000.

If you’re over the age of 24, you can be considered an independent student. Also, you’re considered independent if you’re married, a military veteran or if you can financially support yourself.

As an independent student, you can borrow $9,500 to $12,500 every year and a maximum of $57,500 total. However, if you’re a dependent undergrad, your parents might not qualify for a Parent PLUS loan.  Even with that, it’s still possible to borrow up to the limits of federal loans for independent students.


Graduate Federal Student Loan Limits

Students enrolled on a professional, or graduate degree can borrow to a maximum of $20,500 annually in Direct Unsubsidized loans. You also get a lifetime maximum of $138,500, and that includes any federal loans you borrowed during undergraduate school.

If you reach the limit on graduate loans and still need more loans, you can opt for a federal Graduate PLUS loan, up to the attendance cost.


Private Student Loan Limits

Private institutions such as credit unions, banks, and online lenders provide private student loans.

Private student loans are typically the best if you’ve used up all your federal financial aid opportunities. That’s because even though you can get private student loan forgiveness, it won’t be the same as federal loan forgiveness. It isn’t easy.

Aside from that, the lenders require hard credit checks, and you won’t get the benefits like income-driven repayment plans or loan forgiveness opportunities. Now most lenders will permit you to borrow the maximum cost of attendance. But the total amount will vary based on various factors such as:

  • Your loan lender
  • The major
  • The credit score
  • Whether you have a cosigner or not


How Much Do You Need To Borrow?

The limits for student loans tell how much you can borrow. However, there’s no requirement to borrow the maximum. Depending on the student loan terms, it could take you years to get rid of your debt. And the longer it takes, the more interest accrues, so it’s ideal to borrow as little as you can.

It’s advisable to keep your monthly payment around ten percent of your proposed after-tax income your first year after graduation. For instance, if your take-home pay is $3,000 a month, your payments shouldn’t surpass $300.

You can use the BLS to help you estimate your postgraduate salary. And you can use the student loan calculator to estimate your monthly loan payment based on the interest rate and loan amount.

Final Thoughts

The first step in knowing how to pay for college is to know your college’s cost of attendance. Then, you can find out whether you can cover the cost using scholarships, grants, and money earned from part-time jobs.

If you have to take out a student loan, use your Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loan options first. After that, it may be possible to cover the rest of the loans with a PLUS loan.

Private student loans should be the last option because they have fewer protections compared to federal student loans.

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