Skip to main content

Understanding how much student debt you can afford


Students calculate how much they can afford in monthly payments for student loans based on what their monthly income might be after they graduate from college.

Big idea

Making sure your student loan debt will be affordable once you graduate can help prepare you to manage your money as an adult.

Essential questions

  • How much student loan debt can I handle?
  • How does the career I choose affect the amount of debt I can successfully manage?


  • Understand that your career choices may influence your ability to repay student loans
  • Determine how much student loan debt you could afford based on a career’s starting salary

What students will do

  • Calculate the monthly gross income for several entry-level jobs.
  • For each career, they’ll calculate how much money they can spend on debt repayment each month.
  • Determine whether each career would allow them to afford the student loan amount described in the scenario.

Download activity

Teacher guide

Understanding how much student debt you can afford (guide)

Student materials

Understanding how much student debt you can afford (worksheet)

Note: Please remember to consider your students’ accommodations and special needs to ensure that all students are able to participate in a meaningful way.

Explore related resources