How Much Should I Borrow in Student Loans for College?

Did a little chill slither down your spine when you read “student loans”? It can be an intimidating topic to many college-bound students and their families. There are a lot of questions and concerns (especially for first gen or firstborn students). One of the big questions is: just how much money should I take out for college?

Learn more about student loans.

The best way to ease concern is by educating yourself about the subject. And we’re here to help you do that, by shedding light on this very question. So, how much should you borrow in student loans?

How much should you take out?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, sadly, but here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t borrow more than your expected starting salary after graduation. For example, in 2014 English majors started off with an average salary around $33,000, so an English major student should not have borrowed more than $33,000.

One student loan with Multi-Year Approval.*

Fixed rates from 4.43%-12.57% APR* with flexible terms


A student loan shouldn’t be your first option.

Ideally you want to borrow as little as possible to cover the costs of college. Seeking out financial aid packages and applying for scholarships is the best way to lower the amount in student loans you have to borrow. A loan should be a last resort (and a private loan should be a last-last resort, always look into federal loans first).

There is no magical formula to predict exactly how much you should borrow, so it is imperative you do thorough research on all available options before committing to something.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!



Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
5.80%-13.95%* Variable
4.43%-12.57%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
5.36% - 16.99% Variable
4.41% - 16.99% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
5.84% - 11.11% Variable
4.39% - 11.11% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.03% - 15.94% Variable
4.48% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.10% - 10.64% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.39% - 16.20% Variable
4.42% - 15.90% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
4.48% - 12.29% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.