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What is the Maximum Amount of Student Loan Money You Can Borrow?

By Will Geiger

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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Reviewed by Annie Trout

Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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Updated: September 18th, 2023
What is the Maximum Amount of Student Loan Money You Can Borrow?

Student loans can be used to fund your education, but they are not limitless. For federal and private lenders, there is a maximum student loan amount. The maximum amount that can be borrowed depends on a variety of factors. Continue reading to learn more about student loan borrowing limits!

Federal student loans

Federal student loans come from the U.S. Department of Education. There is a maximum amount of federal loans that can be borrowed annually and over the course of a student’s education.

Maximum student loan amount for undergraduate students

The maximum amount of federal student loans an undergraduate can borrow per academic year is between $5,500 and $12,500. The exact annual limit depends on your year in school and dependency status.

Undergraduate students can receive both Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized federal loans. There is an annual and total limit of how much can be borrowed in Direct Subsidized loans.

See also: Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans: What You Need to Know 

This chart shows the annual and total limits an undergraduate student can borrow based on their year and dependency status. 


Dependent students

Independent students

First year annual limit

$5,500; no more than $3,500 subsidized

$9,500; no more than $3,500 subsidized

Second year annual limit

$6,500; no more than $4,500 subsidized

$10,500; no more than $4,500 subsidized

Third year and beyond annual limit

$7,500; no more than $5,500 subsidized

$12,500; no more than $5,500 subsidized

Total undergraduate loan limit

$31,000; no more than $23,000 subsidized

$57,500; no more than $23,000 subsidized

Maximum student loan amount for graduate/professional students

There is also a borrowing limit on federal loans for graduate or professional school. The loans borrowed during undergrad are included in the total loan amount. 

Graduate/professional students can borrow up to $20,500 annually. The total amount of federal student loans a graduate/professional student can borrow is $138,500

The maximum amount of PLUS loans that can be borrowed by parents or graduate students is equal to the school’s cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid that was received.

See also: Parent PLUS Loans: Everything You Need to Know

If a student reaches the maximum amount of federal loans borrowed, they are not eligible for more. The only way to borrow more loans is to pay off some of your debt to bring it below the limit.

Private student loans

The exact amount of private student loans that can be borrowed depends on the lender. Generally, the maximum is the school’s cost of attendance. Some private lenders also have a borrowing minimum.

You should max out your federal student loans before borrowing private loans. Federal student loans have more benefits such as income-driven repayment, deferment, and forbearance. 

Keep these limits in mind when planning to borrow student loans!

Also see: How much student loan debt is too much?

Frequently asked questions about how much student loan money you are allowed to borrow

Is there a maximum amount of student loans you can borrow?

Yes, there is a maximum, and that amount is dependent on where students are in their academic journeys. Check the Federal Student Aid guidelines for the exact dollar amounts.

What determines how much student loans you get?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), year in school, enrollment status, and the Cost of Attendance (COA) are all factors. Ultimately, the financial aid office at your college or career school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

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