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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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What should I consider when deciding how much to borrow?


You should borrow only what your future earnings will allow you to repay. In general, try not to borrow more for all four (or more years) of college than you expect to earn as a starting annual salary when you leave school.

If your total student loan debt when you graduate were equal to your starting annual salary, at the current interest rate for federal student loans, your payment would be nearly 14 percent of your gross monthly income. 

Contact your local library or your college’s career center to find resources to determine the salary you might be able to expect when graduating in your field. 

Of course, you should consider many other factors specific to your individual circumstances when determining how much debt you can handle. This is a personal decision that only you can make. You may also want to consider discussing the decision with your family and other trusted advisors.

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The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.