Student Loan Calculator: Will Your College And Major Pay Off?

Select your major and college of choice and find out the max amount of loans you should take out.
By Kathy Morris & Chris Kolmar

How much debt can you afford?

College is expensive.

And it gets pricier every year. The cost of tuition has increased by 17% in the past 5 years, according to The College Board. The other thing increasing? The amount of student loans students take out to pay these rapidly growing tuition costs. The average borrower walks away with $31,172 in student loan debt. The average monthly loan payment is $393.

That monthly payment might be entirely doable. However, depending upon where you go to college and what you choose to study, it might not.

Glossy college brochures feature smiling students wearing university sweatshirts and talk about future earnings and exciting job opportunities upon completion. But how much of that is marketing? And how much of that is the truth?

We created this calculator to help students determine the amount of loans they can afford to take out without crippling their future selves with debt.

Additional Resources

How Our Calculator Works

Our calculator is powered with data from The College Scorecard. We looked at over 3,200 schools and 255 majors.

We take median graduate earnings for choice of college and major. If you don't select a college, we use the median earnings for the major, for students from all colleges.

To determine the max amount of loans you should take out, we assume a standard 10 year payback. Since it is recommended that student loans make up 10% or less of your monthly salary, that is the max amount we recommend. Anything more than that and you might find yourself struggling to pay for food and other necessities like rent.

It is important to remember these are median earnings-- meaning some graduates earn less and some earn more. However, it is a good baseline to consider when taking out loans.

We also only look at bachelor's degree earnings. If you plan to use your Biology degree to go to medical school or your political science degree for law school, your future earnings might look a lot different.

Student Loan Calculator

Ways To Save On College Tuition

  1. Apply For As Many Scholarships As Possible: The more scholarships you receive, the less loans you'll need to take out. There are scholarships for all types of students-- even ones who are left-handed. Don't think they're just for high school students, keep applying for scholarships throughout your college career.
  2. Financial Aid: Talk to your school (or potential school's) Financial Aid Office to see what aid you qualify for. Don't assume you won't receive aid, fill out your FASFA and due your due diligence.
  3. Consider Dual Enrollment: The more credits you earn while in high school, the less you have to pay for while you're in college.
  4. Graduate On Time: By graduating in four years, you reduce room and board costs. It also means that you can get a job sooner to start paying for those loans!
  5. Avoid Private Loans: Private loans have more expensive interest rates and don't qualify for government programs like loan forgiveness, deferment, or income-based repayment. Not all loans are created equally.

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About Zippia

We realized that quite often, people don’t know much about their career options, and how to change or advance their career. While we tried our best to mentor them, it was frustrating to know that there were still millions of people out there who we couldn’t help.

And then we noticed something else: The internet can answer almost any of our questions today – how to build a house, how to buy a car, or how to find love. But even though choosing a career is one of the most important decisions of our life, there is very little reliable guidance available online.

This is why we decided to build a platform that gives everybody the tools to find the career that is right for them.