Decide how much to borrow

Before you can figure out how much to borrow in student loans, you need to figure out how much college will cost, how much money you can put toward it, and what the difference, or the funding gap, is.

Create a plan for borrowing and repaying

Estimate how much you need to borrow for the entire school year
You can estimate your expenses for the entire school year. To help determine your expenses, check your financial aid award letter, which contains your school's cost of attendance. The cost of attendance is your school's estimate of certain expenses. It may include:

  • tuition
  • fees
  • housing and meals
  • books and supplies
  • travel
  • miscellaneous expenses such as a laptopfootnote 1

Depending on the type of your loan, your school may certify your loan amount so you don't borrow more than the cost of attendance. Manage your debt effectively by only having to take out a single loan. This eliminates the need for a second credit check and also reduces the number of loans you have to manage once you finish school.

Borrow only for the cost of tuition and related expenses.
Subtract any money you have received from scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal loans, along with any savings you or your family have for school. Then you’ll be left with the amount you still need to pay for college.

Think about your post-college lifestyle.
Only borrow what you can afford to pay back. Visit the U.S Department of Labor’s website for estimated salaries by occupation.

See how Blake put together a plan to pay for college

Related topics

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey, financial, tax, or legal advice. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances.

footnote 1. For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website may be subjected to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.