Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
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 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.
This chart shows the annual and total limits an undergraduate student can borrow based on their year and dependency status.
|Year||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. No more than $65,500 of Direct Subsidized loans can be borrowed.
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.
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.
Keep these limits in mind when planning to borrow student loans!
Also see: How much student loan debt is too much?