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Student loan options to borrow $100,000

Find the right combination of federal and private financing for that expensive degree.

You might need to apply for multiple loans when you’re looking for $100,000 to pay for school. The Department of Education restricts how much you can borrow on its least-expensive loans. But private lenders typically don’t offer as flexible repayment and deferment options, which can be useful to manage the high monthly cost.

Can I get federal student loans to borrow $100,000?

It depends on what type of federal loan you apply for. You can get a federal student loan to cover a small part of your college expenses through the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan programs. That’s because these come with annual limits well under $100,000 — in addition to lifetime limits. You’ll likely need to cover the majority of your expenses with a private student loan for school costs of that size.

Here’s what you might expect from the federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan programs.

Type of studentAnnual federal loan limitPrivate loans needed
Undergraduate$5,500 to $12,500 $87,500 to $94,500
Graduate or professional$20,500$79,500

As you can see, Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans barely make a dent, even for graduate students. On top of this, undergraduates can’t take out more than $57,500 for their entire degree. Graduate and professional students are limited to borrowing $138,500 — including undergraduate federal loans.

But these federal loans still might be worth applying for. With interest rates fixed at 2.75% for undergraduates and 4.3% for graduates along with a wide range of flexible repayment plans and forgiveness programs, these might be the best deal available to you.

Need $100,000? Consider a PLUS Loan

You might also consider your PLUS Loan options. Through the Direct PLUS program, you can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified costs with no lifetime limits.

The catch? Undergraduates can’t qualify for a PLUS Loan — their parents have to apply for one instead. Graduate students can qualify on their own. But both must meet credit requirements or bring on a creditworthy cosigner. And rates are fixed at 5.3% — higher than what you might find with a private lender.

Private student loan providers that offer $100,000

ProviderMaximum annual loanRatesEligibility
EdvestinU$200,0001.83% to 4.2% with autopay$30,000+ annual income for balances under $100,000, $50,000+ for balances over $100,000, US citizen or permanent resident, attended at a degree-granting school
Go to EDvestinU's site
CommonBond$500,0003.74% to 10.74%You must be an American citizen or a permanent resident of the US and have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Education requirements: You must be enrolled at or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate or MBA program
Go to site
SunTrust$150,0004.75% to 9.41%Enrolled at least half time at eligible school, 17+ years old, US citizen or permanent resident, strong credit, regular income, not a resident of Iowa or WisconsinRead review
Citizens Bank$295,0001.03% to 10.24%Be the age of majority in your state, be enrolled as at least half-time at an eligible school, be a US citizen or resident and have good credit or a cosigner with good creditRead review
Ascent$200,0001.50% to 9.33%Student must be US citizen, permanent resident, DACA recipient or US temporary resident, enrolled at least half-time in degree program at eligible institution. Cosigner must be US citizen or permanent resident, have 620+ credit score.
Go to Ascent's site

When you’ve maxed out your federal loans, private student loans could be your next best option. Most private lenders allow you to borrow up to 100% of your school-certified costs. And if they have a cap, it’s often well over $100,000.

Many have lifetime aggregate limits, but these tend to be much higher than federal loans, especially for advanced degrees. For example, Citizens Bank offers funding up to $350,000 for medical students.

How to pay off $100,000 in student debt

Paying off such a large debt load can take time and get expensive. But there are a few strategies you can use to make sure you stay on top of your repayments and save on interest:

  • Consider an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. If you aren’t in a high-paying field, paying your federal loan repayments based on your income can make them more affordable. Plus, the government forgives whatever debt is left after 20 or 25 years of IDR repayments.
  • Apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). If you’re working in public service, you could have your federal loans canceled after making 120 repayments while working an eligible job on an IDR plan.
  • Sign up for a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP). Many federal and state agencies offer partial forgiveness by profession for both federal and private loans. It might not cancel all $100,000, but it could make a dent in your student debt.
  • Consider deferment and forbearance. If you decide to go back to school or are struggling to make repayments, reach out to your servicer to learn about your options to put your student loans on hold. While you might end up paying more in interest overall, it’ll keep you from becoming delinquent or defaulting.

How your loan term affects monthly repayments

The amount of time you take to repay your loan affects how much you pay each month, in addition to how much you pay in interest in the long run.

The longer your loan term, the lower your monthly repayments but the higher the overall cost. However, with a loan the size of $100,000, shorter loan terms might be unaffordable and put you at risk of default.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you were paying off a $100,000 student loan with a 5.8% APR — the national average. Here’s how much you’d pay per month and in total for different loan terms:

Loan termMonthly repaymentTotal interest paid
7 years$1,451.29$21,908.06
10 years$1,100.19$32,022.57
15 years$833.09$49,956.17
20 years$704.94$69,185.83
25 years$632.13$89,639.42

By lengthening your loan term from seven to 25 years, you can reduce how much you pay each month by almost $1,000. However, you’ll pay nearly $90,000 in interest over that quarter century — four times as much as you would over seven years.

Can’t afford repayments for even the 25-year term? Reach out to your loan servicer to find out if they offer any graduated or income-driven repayment options.

Bottom line

The most popular federal loans won’t get you very far if you’re looking for a $100,000 student loan. And the ones that are available at that amount might not offer the most competitive rates. But the flexible repayment options available to federal borrowers might make it worth applying for a combination of federal and private loans.

You can learn more about how both work by reading our guide to student loans.

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