Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Planning for the future

How much should I borrow long-term?

Before you can make an informed decision about student loan borrowing, you’ll need to know how many years you plan on taking to earn your degree or certificate. Even when it’s called a “two-year” degree or a “four-year” degree, every student follows their own timeline, and some students take more or fewer years to complete. If you’re not sure how long it will take you, you should work with an academic advisor to create a timeline for your education.

What is my target total loan debt?

Many people have to take on some debt to complete their degree. When taking on student debt, you want to try to hit your target total loan debt. Your target total loan debt will be a manageable amount of debt: you’ll be able to repay this amount and have money left over each month to spare. The closer you can get to this, the less painful repayment is going to be.

Student Debt Sweet Spot Calculator
sweet spot icon

Your monthly take-home pay will be about:

Affordable monthly loan payments would be about:

Your total loan debt should be under:

Make sure that your total loan debt is in the sweet spot

Now that you’ve made sure you have enough to finish your degree, you want to make sure that your total loan debt is in your sweet spot. To do this, you need to know your total target loan debt, which you can figure out in the Student Debt Sweet Spot calculator above. You’ll divide the total loan debt by the number of years you’ll be in school to get the target amount you should borrow each year.

total target loan debt
number of years you'll be in school
maximum amount you should borrow each year

Did you know…

Are you planning to transfer to a four-year school? If you borrow more than you should before transferring you may be in danger of running out of loan money before you earn your degree. You’ll learn more about this on How much can I borrow?