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Historical Loan Limits

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This page provides information about historical loan limits for the Stafford and PLUS education loans.

The loan limits for the Stafford and PLUS Loans have changed multiple times, with the following major milestones:

  • 2012-2013: The Budget Control Act of 2011 eliminated subsidized Stafford loans for graduate and professional students, effective July 1, 2012. The students can borrow the same amounts, but only as unsubsidized Stafford loans. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 eliminated the government payment of interest on subsidized Stafford loans during the 6-month grace period for new loans in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
  • 2008-2009: The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 increased annual and aggregate unsubsidized Stafford loan limits for undergraduate students.
  • 2007-2008: The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 increased annual Stafford loan limits for freshmen, sophomores and graduate students, but did not increase aggregate limits.
  • 1993-1994: The Higher Education Amendments of 1992 increased annual Stafford loan limits for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students, along with increases in the aggregate limits. It also introduced the unsubsidized Stafford loan, increased the annual PLUS loan limit to cost of attendance minus aid, and eliminated the aggregate PLUS loan limit.
  • 1994: SLS loan program repealed.
  • 1987: Increased all annual and aggregate subsidized Stafford loan limits.

Annual Stafford Loan Limits

The following table lists historical annual subsidized Stafford loan limits. From July 1, 1993 onward, these were combined subsidized and unsubsidized limits, allowing students to borrow any amount not awarded as a subsidized Stafford as an unsubsidized Stafford, up to the combined limit. (Starting July 1, 2008 the unsubsidized Stafford loan limits were increased.)

Year Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate Student
7/1/2012 to the present$3,500$4,500$5,500$5,500$8,500
unsubsidized only
7/1/2007 to 6/30/2012$3,500$4,500$5,500$5,500$8,500
10/1/1993 to 6/30/2007$2,625$3,500$5,500$5,500$8,500
7/1/1993 to 9/30/1993$2,625$3,500$5,500$5,500$7,500
1/1/1987 to 6/30/1993$2,625$2,625$4,000$4,000$7,500
5/20/1977 to 12/31/1986$2,500$2,500$2,500$2,500$5,000
6/1/1973 to 5/19/1977$1,000$1,500$2,500$2,500$2,500
7/2/1967 to 5/31/1973$1,500$1,500$1,500$1,500$1,500

From January 1, 1981 to September 30, 1981, independent undergraduate students had a higher annual loan limit of $3,000.

The following table lists the additional unsubsidized Stafford limits available to dependent students whose parents were not denied a PLUS loan.

Year Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
7/1/2008 to the present$2,000$2,000$2,000$2,000

The following table lists the additional unsubsidized Stafford limits available to independent students, dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan, and graduate students. These additional limits were motivated by the Supplemental Loan to Students (SLS), which was eliminated on July 1, 1994. This table incorporates SLS limits prior to that date.

Year Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate Student
7/1/2008 to the present$6,000$6,000$7,000$7,000$12,000
7/1/2007 to 6/30/2008$4,000$4,000$5,000$5,000$12,000
7/1/1994 to 6/30/2007$4,000$4,000$5,000$5,000$10,000
10/17/1986 to 6/30/1994$4,000$4,000$4,000$4,000$4,000

Medical school students can borrow an additional $20,000 a year in unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Aggregate Stafford Loan Limits

The following table lists historical aggregate Stafford loan limits.

Year Undergraduate Graduate + Undergraduate
10/1/1992 to the present$23,000$65,500
1/1/1987 to 9/30/1992$17,250$54,750
1/1/1981 to 12/31/1986$12,500$25,000
5/20/1977 to 12/31/1980$7,500$15,000
6/1/1973 to 5/19/1977$7,500$10,000
7/2/1967 to 5/31/1973$9,000$9,000

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From January 1, 1981 to September 30, 1981, independent undergraduate students had a higher aggregate loan limit of $15,000.

From October 17, 1986 to September 30, 1992, SLS aggregate limits were $20,000. They were increased to $23,000 (undergraduate) and $73,000 (graduate plus undergraduate) from October 1, 1992 through June 30, 1994. The SLS program was eliminated on July 1, 1994.

Since July 1, 1994 there have been additional aggregate unsubsidized Stafford loan limits for independent undergradate students, dependent undergradate students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan, and graduate students. The additional aggregate limits for unsubsidized Stafford loans were $23,000 for undergraduate students (independent students and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan) and $73,000 for graduate students, bringing the combined aggregate limits to $46,000 and $138,500.

Starting July 1, 2008 the additional aggregate limits for unsubsidized Stafford loans increased by $8,000 for dependent undergraduate students (whose parents were not denied a Parent PLUS loan) and by $11,500 for independent undergraduate students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan), bringing the combined aggregate limits to $31,000 and $57,500, respectively. (No more than $23,000 of the aggregate Stafford loan limit may be subsidized.) The combined aggregate limit for graduate and professional students remained unchanged at $138,500, no more than $65,500 of which may be subsidized. However, as noted below, DCL GEN-08-04 increased the combined aggregate limit for medical school students from $189,125 (set in 1996) to $224,000 effective 4/18/2008.

PLUS Loan Limits

The following table lists historical PLUS loan limits.

Year Annual Limit Aggregate Limit
7/1/1993 to the presentCost of Attendance
Minus Aid Received
No Limit
10/17/1986 to 6/30/1993$4,000$20,000

Miscellaneous Loan Limits

Prior to 1994, smaller Stafford loan limits were available for programs that were shorter than a year in length.

Students enrolled in health professions programs that were eligible under the former HEAL program have higher unsubsidized Stafford loan limits since July 1, 1996, per DCL GEN-96-14. Such students are eligible to borrow an additional unsubsidized Stafford of $20,000 per year and have an aggregate Stafford loan limit (combined subsidized plus unsubsidized) of $189,125. This limit was increased to $224,000 effective April 18, 2008 by DCL GEN-08-04.

 

 
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