Issue Background

Student Debt

Under current law, there is a significant disparity in both annual and aggregate Stafford loan borrowing limits among health professions students.

While certain graduate-level health professions students have a lifetime borrowing limit (including loans received during undergraduate education) of $224,000, PA students are capped at $138,500. Additionally, PA students are restricted to the annual borrowing limit of $20,500 reserved for non-health professions graduate students. This forces PA students to seek alternative financing options, often with higher interest rates.

To begin addressing this issue, the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act, would change the amount PA students are able to borrow through the Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Loan program from the current level of $20,500 per year to $40,000 in the first year of their program, $40,000 in the second year, and $15,000 in the third year as applicable.

By raising the annual borrowing limit for PA students, the need for higher-interest financing alternatives can be reduced, and a step can be taken toward the eventual goal of borrowing parity among health professions students.  

PAEA supports raising the amount that PA students can borrow annuallly through the Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Loan program to $40,000 in their first year, $40,000 in their second year, and $15,000 in their third year. PAEA further supports increasing the aggregate borrowing limit for PA students to $224,000.