Home Financial Aid Tips Know Your FSA and Other Types of Financial Aid Limits
Know Your FSA and Other Types of Financial Aid Limits

Know Your FSA and Other Types of Financial Aid Limits

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By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews, APUS

Did you know that if you use Federal Student Aid (FSA) funding to pay for college expenses, there is an annual limit to the amount you can receive per year? There is also an aggregate limit to the amount you can receive over the lifetime of your college career.

Financial Aid Limits for Pell Grants

If you are eligible for a Pell Grant, you can receive up to 600% of your eligibility over the lifetime of your college career. Essentially, this amount is the equivalent of six years of full-time Pell disbursements (two disbursements per year).

Also, the Pell Grant has a yearly annual limit. Generally, the limit is 100% of the budgeted amount for each award year (July 1st to June 30th).

You may be eligible to use up to 150% of your Pell eligibility each award year. However, if you do use this financial aid amount, you will not be able to receive full-time Pell funds for six consecutive years.

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Limits

For each academic year, you cannot exceed your calculated need for subsidized loans or borrow more than your cost of attendance with any combination of federal loans.

Subsidized and unsubsidized loan eligibility depends on your grade level (first year or second year, for example) as well as your dependency status. There is a limit to the amount of both loans that you can borrow each academic year, as well as a limit on the total amount of FSA loans you can borrow while you attend school.

The following table describes the maximum annual limits for Federal Direct Loans per academic year.

Dependent Undergraduates Subsidized Annual Limit Total (Unsubsidized plus Subsidized)
First Year $3,500 $5,500
Second Year $4,500 $6,500
Third Year and Beyond $5,500 $7,500
Independent Undergraduates Subsidized Annual Limit Total (Unsubsidized plus Subsidized)
First Year $3,500 $9,500
Second Year $4,500 $10,500
Third Year $5,500 $12,500

Graduate and professional students can borrow up to $20,500 per academic year in unsubsidized loans, but are not eligible for subsidized loans.

The table below details the aggregate lifetime limits for eligible borrowers.

Subsidized Lifetime Limit Total (Subsidized plus Unsubsidized)
Dependent Undergraduates $23,000 $31,000
Independent Undergraduates $23,000 $57,500
Graduate and Professionals $65,500 $138,500

While graduate and professional students are not eligible for subsidized loans, any amount they may have borrowed as an undergraduate does count toward their aggregate limit.

It is very important to keep track of your annual and aggregate FSA eligibility. The best way to ensure that you do not reach your limits is to borrow only the amount of loan funding you truly need for your education. Contact a financial aid representative if you have questions about Pell Grants, loan limits or your eligibility.

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