How to Get Financial Aid When You Have Reached Your Student Loan Limits

by Rebecca Renner ; Updated September 26, 2018
How to Get Financial Aid When You Have Reached Your Student Loan Limits

Although it may seem like you can borrow however much money you need to pay for college, even student loans have limits. The max amount of student loans allowed for undergraduates is up to $12,500 per year. For graduate and professional students, this number bumps up to $20,500 per year. Undergraduates can borrow direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans, any graduate and professional students can borrow direct unsubsidized loans.

What Is the Max Amount of Student Loans Allowed?

These numbers also have upper limits, too. Undergraduate students can borrow no more than $57,500 total. The max amount of student loans allowed for graduate and professional students is $138,500. These student loan lifetime limits prevent students from borrowing more than they will be able to pay back.

Can I Borrow More?

Financial aid limits are there for a reason. So exceeding student loan lifetime limits is not advisable. However, if you find yourself needing to borrow more, you do have a few options. The first thing you should do if you find yourself in a situation is to visit your financial aid office.

Tell your financial aid advisor you’re having difficulty making ends meet on your current financial aid budget. Although they may be reluctant to help you borrow more money, they will still try to help you find financial aid in different ways. They may be able to help you locate scholarships you qualify for. They can also help you find jobs on and off campus. Most importantly, your financial aid advisor can help you make a plan so that you do not borrow so much money that you reach your student loan lifetime limits.

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I Reached My Financial Aid Limits…Now What?

If you have reached the financial aid limits and you’re still strapped for cash, exhaust all other options before pursuing further loans. Talk to your family members, including grandparents and more distant relatives. Ask if they are willing to let you borrow some money for college. You won’t know if you don’t ask. Try other options, as well, such as getting another job, starting a business or maybe taking some time off of college to save some money.

If all else fails, you can look into getting private loans. Word of caution: Private loans do not have the security of federal loans. Their interest rates can be much higher. With private loans, you may end up paying back more money in the long run, so you should only use that as a last resort.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a journalist and college instructor in South Florida.

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