Limits for Individual Aid Programs

In addition to maximum timeframe regulations which limit a student's overall aid eligibility some programs also have individual limits.

Students who withdraw from courses frequently, retake courses frequently or take courses not required for their degree programs run the risk of running out of Federal Pell Grant eligibility before earning a degree.

Student's attending part-time who take out the annual maximum loan eligibility will likely reach the aggregate limits before earning their degrees so should limit the amount they borrow annually.

Details on Program Limits

The Federal Pell Grant is pro-rated based on the number of credits for which a student is enrolled. A student can receive up to two full-time semesters (12 or more credits each) each academic year.

Each student's Federal Pell Grant eligibility is limited to the equivalent of six full-time years or the completion of the requirements for a bachelor's degree, whichever comes first.

The Federal Direct Student Loan program has annual loan limits and aggregate (i.e. lifetime) loan limits (below). Student loans have to be repaid with interest so students should limit their borrowing as much as possible.

Aggregate Loan Limits
Student Type Subsidized Limit Total Limit
Undergraduate Dependent up to $23,000 $31,000
Undergraduate Independent up to $23,000 $57,500
Graduate up to $65,500* $138,500**

*Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are no longer available to graduate students; their subsidized loan limit refers to the loans received as an undergrad and prior to this change.

**The total graduate loan limit includes the student's undergraduate loans.

Students who first borrow Federal Direct Subsidized Loan funds in 2013-2014 or later are subject to a time limit, based on the length of their program measured in terms, for which they can receive subsidized loans. Once a student's time in school has exceeded 150% of their academic program length they will be no longer be eligible for Federal Direct Subsidized Loan funds and they lose the subsidy on existing Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.

For example, a student admitted to a two-year program can only receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loan funds for six semesters. The time limit is a lifetime limit but only counts semesters that subsidized funding is received. So if a student completed an associate's degree in two years, for which they received Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, and decided to pursue a second associate's degree, they would only have one year of subsidized eligibility left at the two-year level. This same student could continue on for a bachelor's degree instead, but would be limited to 8 more semesters of subsidized loans.