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Understanding how much student debt you can afford


Students calculate how much they can afford in monthly student loan payments based on what their salary might be after graduating from college or another post-secondary institution.

Big idea

Making sure your student loan debt will be affordable once you graduate can help prepare you to manage your money in the future.

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 entry-level jobs in different careers.
  • 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.

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Teacher guide


Student materials


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