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Annual Loan Limits vs. Lifetime Aggregate Loan Limits
Annual Loan Limits
The federal government limits the total and annual amount of Federal Direct Loan(s) that students can borrow. Walden University defines its annual award year as three quarters or three semesters for course-based programs.
For Tempo Learning® programs, the annual borrowing limit is based on the minimum weeks and terms equivalencies in the program’s financial aid academic year and students cannot borrow a new annual loan limit until both requirements are met (please see Financial Aid Disbursement Process and Requests for Excess Funds for Tempo Learning® Programs for program specific information). Students cannot exceed the annual Direct Loan maximums in the award year. Loans borrowed at a prior institution can impact the student’s eligibility at Walden. The Office of Financial Aid may ask students to provide additional information about prior loans in order to process new loans at Walden.
Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
Undergraduate annual borrowing ranges from $3,500 to $5,500 depending on year in school and expected family contributions (EFC).
Time Limitation on Direct Subsidized Loan Eligibility for First-Time Borrowers on or After July 2013
The federal government has placed a new time limit on Federal Direct Subsidized Loans for first-time borrowers on or after July 1, 2013. A first-time borrower is someone with no outstanding student loan debt as of July 1, 2013. In general, a first-time borrower may not receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150% of the published length of the bachelor’s degree or undergraduate certificate program as measured in academic years. This is called the “maximum eligibility period.” For the Walden bachelor’s degree programs, the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan maximum eligibility period is 6.5 academic years. For the Undergraduate Certificate in Homeland Security, the limit is 1.5 academic years. An academic year is three quarters. Prior subsidized usage will count toward the students’ maximum. For more information, see StudentAid.gov.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Undergraduate annual borrowing ranges from $5,500 to $12,500 (less Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility) depending on year in school and dependency status.
- Graduate student annual borrowing maximum is $20,500.¹
- Teacher Preparation Students or Endorsement Students who do not choose the M.S. degree options have a borrowing maximum of $12,500.
- Students Enrolled in Preparatory Courses for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) have a borrowing maximum of $12,500.
- Graduate PLUS Loans and Parent PLUS Loans are also processed based on three terms or three semesters per award year. They are limited annually by the cost of attendance minus any financial aid received.
¹Master of Public Health students may be eligible for up to $33,000 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans annually.
Graduate PLUS Loans and Parent PLUS Loans
These loans are also processed based on three quarters or three semesters per award year. They are limited annually by the cost of attendance minus any financial aid received.
Lifetime Aggregate Loan Limits
The federal government limits the aggregate amount of Federal Direct Loans that students can borrow in their lifetime. The lifetime aggregate limits for federal student loans (Federal Family Education Loan [FFEL] Program and Direct Loans) are as follows:
- Graduate students: $138,500 combined (only $65,500 may be subsidized; includes amounts borrowed as an undergraduate student).
- Dependent undergraduate students: $31,000 combined (only $23,000 may be subsidized).¹
- Independent undergraduate students: $57,500 combined (only $23,000 may be subsidized).
- Parent PLUS Loans and Graduate PLUS Loans do not have a lifetime maximum.
¹Master of Public Health students may be eligible for up to $224,000 combined (only $65,000 may be subsidized); includes amounts borrowed as an undergraduate student.
Student loan borrowers are responsible for knowing the total amount of federal loans they have borrowed. Having sufficient remaining eligibility is important to a student’s ability to successfully complete their academic program. A summary of each student’s federal loan debt is available via the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
Exceeding Annual or Aggregate Loan Limits
The Student Aid Report (SAR) may indicate that a student has inadvertently borrowed in excess of the Federal Direct Loan limits. For example, a prior institution may have inadvertently allowed a student to borrow federal undergraduate loans in excess of undergraduate limits while not exceeding the graduate loan limits. Before Walden can award graduate-level Federal Direct Loans to the student, the student must reaffirm the debt by either consolidating the prior loans that exceed the limits or by obtaining a reaffirmation letter from the holder of the loans. Another example would be if a prior institution inadvertently allowed a student to exceed graduate loan limits.
Before Walden can award Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, the student must reaffirm the debt by either consolidating the prior loans that exceed the limits or by obtaining a reaffirmation letter from the holder of the loans.