Know Your Limits

Financial aid programs all have limits after which students are no longer eligible. It’s important to know your limits and plan your program accordingly. Some of the major limits students should be aware of:


Federal regulations prohibit students from receiving the same kind of aid (ex: Pell Grant) at two different institutions for the same period of enrollment.

Federal Pell Grant

Federal regulations limit the receipt of the Federal Pell Grant to a total of 6 years (18 full time quarters/12 full time semesters).

Subsidized Student Loans

For borrowers who first borrow after July 1, 2013 subsidized loan eligibility is limited to 150% of the length of the student’s academic program. In addition, if a student is still enrolled at the point the 150% is reached, the subsidized loans borrowed will become subject to interest accrual. In other words, a loan is subsidized (no interest accruing) up to a maximum of 150% of a student’s program.  After that, interest will begin to accrue on any subsidized loans borrowed. 

Federal Student Loan Limits

For all borrowers there are limits to what can be borrowed annually as well as an aggregate limit of what can be borrowed in total over the lifetime of your educational pursuit.

Undergraduate and Credential:

Loan Limits






1st Year (0-44 units)

$5500 (up to $3500 subsidized)

$9500 (up to $3500 subsidized)

2nd year (45-89 units)

$6500 (up to $4500 subsidized)

$10,500 (up to $4500 subsidized

3rd year or more (90+ units)

$7500 (up to $5500 subsidized)

$12,500 (up to $5500 subsidized)


$5500 (up to $5500 subsidized)

$12,500 (up to $5500 subsidized)

Aggregate (total borrowing) Limit



Graduate (Master’s Degree):


$20,500 unsubsidized

Aggregate (total borrowing Limit)

$138,500 (includes undergraduate borrowing)

State University Grant (SUG)

The State University Grant is a CSU fund given to eligible students who do not have a Cal Grant or have the state university tuition/fee waived or paid by another source. Undergraduate students with an excess of 225 earned units, teacher credential students who have earned more than 45 units and Master’s level students who have 125% of program requirements or more units earned at the post baccalaureate level are no longer eligible to receive the State University Grant. Second degree or second credential students are not eligible for the SUG.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Students with federal work-study are limited to working a maximum of 20 hours per week. FWS can be earned from the first day of classes in the fall to the last day of finals in the spring. It is not available for summer employment, nor can it be earned any quarter the student is not enrolled at least half time.

Repeat Courses

Courses repeated for a third time (with satisfactory completion grades) are not eligible for financial aid and the GPA is averaged. Exception: Courses that are repeated as part of program requirements (such as art or music studio classes) may be funded more than twice. GPA calculation follow the University academic policy as noted in the Cal Poly catalog. Example: if a student is registered for three 4 unit classes (12 units) but one of those courses has already been completed with a passing grade twice (D or better is considered a passing grade) financial aid will be based on 8 units because the 3rd course will no longer qualify.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

All Federal and State financial aid programs are subject to Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. Cal Poly’s SAP evaluation is on an annual basis. When students apply for financial aid, they fall subject to Cal Poly’s SAP requirements. Unit completion, grade point average and number of terms enrolled are checked annually at the end of spring quarter for all terms of enrollment, even if a student is not currently receiving financial aid. Please review our Satisfactory Academic Progress webpage here for detailed information.

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