Federal Direct Loan Limits

The Department of Education sets an annual limit and lifetime maximum amount of Federal Direct Loans that a student can borrow. Please review the charts below to understand the limit for each academic year and lifetime maximum. When planning your educational expenses, be sure to take these limits into account.

If eligible for a Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loan, your loan amount will be based on your academic level as shown below:

Dependent Students (whose parents were not denied a PLUS loan) Combined Base Limit for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Additional Limit for Unsubsidized Loans Total Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
First-Year Undergraduate (Freshman) $3,500 $2,000 $5,500
Second-Year Undergraduate (Sophomore) $4,500 $2,000 $6,500
Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate (Junior, Senior) $5,500 $2,000 $7,500
Independent Students (and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan) Combined Base Limit for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Additional Limit for Undsubsidized Loans Total Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
First-Year Undergraduate (Freshman) $3,500 $6,000 $9,500
Second-Year Undergraduate (Sophomore) $4,500 $6,000 $10,500
Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate (Junior, Senior) $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
Graduate and Professional Students Combined Base Limit for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Additional Limit for Unsubsidized Loans Total Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
Graduate and Professional Students $0 $20,500 $20,500

The Federal Direct Subsidized loan has an aggregate, lifetime limit of $23,000. In addition, based on your dependency status, your aggregate loan lifetime limit is as follows:

  Combined Base Limit for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Additional Limit for Unsubsidized Loans Total Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
Dependent Students (whose parents were not denied a PLUS loan $23,000 $8,000 $31,000
Independent Students (and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan) $23,000 $34,500 $57,500
Graduate and Professional Students $65,500 (including undergraduate Stafford loans) No longer active $73,000 $138,500