There is an evident, yet elusive, cost to education that stretches beyond one’s time, effort, and ability: Money. Of course this should come as no surprise considering everyone knows that to achieve higher education one has to acquire the financial backing to do so.  Here in the United States most individuals have the opportunity to pursue the cause of higher education regardless of race, class, or gender because the government has created a federally backed student loan: the Stafford Loan. But how far does the Stafford Loan really carry candidates of higher education?

                Taking a closer look at limitations of the Stafford Loan is critical for the aspiring career person; the lending amounts available are not an endless source of financial-backing. The Stafford loan is a blessing, but it is to be used wisely as there are set lending limits for various levels of higher education. There is a story beyond just filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and accepting the resulting fiscal support.  Even the subsidization feature, which helps buffer the loan’s 6.8% interest rate, does not cover all of the expenses some colleges dish out to students. How can students protect against having more college credits then there is money to earn them?

                Know the limits of the financial help available! Before singing any documentation--for college registrations or lenders’ notes--make sure the entire cost of the institution’s tuition makes sense. It is not uncommon for students to unwittingly sign up for more than they bargain for; sometimes the educational institution’s tuition exceeds the amount of monies the Stafford loan will lend for the degree being pursued. So, for example, if a college’s overall tuition is 85,000 USD for a Bachelor's Degree in Science, students will have to figure out how to acquire monies to pay for the remaining 27,500 dollars of tuition needed to complete the program; of which only 23,000 USD may qualify for federal interest subsidization.

                While grants, scholarships, high interest private loans, and out-of-pocket monies are also an option for students, there is no doubt that the Stafford Loan is one of the best options when comparing interest rates and availability. Let’s face it, times are hard and education is of huge importance to the up-and-coming Millennial Generation. Given the seriousness of student dept, it makes sense to make a comprehensive road map for college study and finances alike—it makes sense to know federal lender limits for both graduate and undergraduate degrees. It is easy to miss the financial nuances of college education during the process of selection, admission, and study. Everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve personal success and higher education—no one deserves to end up with more credits then there is money to earn them. So, lenders beware!