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Our goal here at Credible is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we do promote products from our partner lenders, no one dictates what we write on our blog. All guidance given is unbiased and all opinions are our own.

If you graduated from college with around $50,000 in student loans (more debt than the average student loan balance), you might feel like you’ll never be able to pay that off. But there are ways to better manage your debt.

Here’s how to pay off $50,000 in student loans:

  1. Refinance your student loans
  2. Ask a friend or relative to cosign a refinancing loan
  3. Explore your forgiveness options
  4. Consider an alternative repayment plan
  5. Use the debt avalanche method

1. Refinance your student loans

If you have private student loans, or if you have a mix of both federal and private loans, consider student loan refinancing. By refinancing your student loans, you can combine your federal and private loans into one loan with a single payment.

The new loan will have different repayment terms than your existing ones. You might qualify for a lower interest rate, which will help you save money over the length of your loan. Or you could extend your repayment term which would reduce your monthly payment if you need some wiggle room in your monthly budget.

Just keep in mind that if you refinance federal loans, you’ll no longer be eligible for federal benefits like income-driven repayment, forgiveness, and more.

LenderFixed rates from (APR)Variable rates from (APR)Min. credit score
advantage education loan consolidation4.54%+N/A670
brazos student loan refinancing3.10%+3.87%+690
citizens bank student loans3.27%+¹ 2.24%+¹Not disclosed by lender
college ave student loans3.54%+22.62%+2Not disclosed by lender
edvestinu student loan consolidation4.93%+54.54%+5700
elfi student loans2.94%+32.39%+3680
mefa refinancing3.95%+4.01%+670
penfed purefy student loan consolidation3.48%+2.27%+670
rhode island student loan authority refinancing3.49%+N/A680
sofi refinancing3.46%+42.51%+4Not disclosed by lender
Ready to see how much you can save?

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4SoFi Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures

Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of February 1, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.66%. Variable interest rates range from 2.24%-8.76% (2.24%-8.76% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower's loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 3.27%-8.90% (3.27%-8.90% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.

2. Ask a friend or relative to cosign a refinancing loan

Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify for a refinancing loan on their own. That issue is especially common for recent graduates who haven’t established their credit histories yet.

If you can’t qualify for a refinancing loan on your own, you might be able to get approved if you add a cosigner to your application. A cosigner is a relative or friend with stable income and excellent credit who applies for a loan with you. If you fall behind on your payments, the cosigner is liable for them, instead.

Having a cosigner reduces the lender’s risk, so they’re more likely to give you a loan. Plus, Credible makes it easy to add a cosigner to your loan application and compare multiple cosigners to see which one gets you the best loan terms and a lower interest rate.

Find out if refinancing with a cosigner is right for you

  • Compare actual rates, not ballpark estimates – Unlock rates from multiple lenders with no impact on your credit score
  • Won’t impact credit score – Checking rates on Credible takes about 2 minutes and won’t impact your credit score
  • Data privacy – We don’t sell your information, so you won’t get calls or emails from multiple lenders

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3. Explore your forgiveness options

In some cases, you might qualify for loan forgiveness. Here are a few of your options:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): If you have federal student loans and work for a non-profit organization or the government, you could be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. After making 10 years of qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer, the U.S. Department of Education will discharge your remaining loan balance.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: If you have federal Direct Loans and work for five years as a teacher in a low-income school, you could get up to $17,500 of your student loans forgiven through teacher loan forgiveness.
  • State assistance programs: Some states offer loan repayment assistance programs to recruit and retain talented healthcare workers, teachers, and lawyers. To find out if your state offers loan repayment aid, contact your state’s department of education.

4. Consider an alternative repayment plan

If you can’t afford your monthly payments and are wondering how to pay off $50,000 in student loans on a tight budget, there are some options. If you have federal student loans, you could sign up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

There are four different IDR plans:

  1. Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  2. Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  3. Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  4. Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

Under each, the U.S. Department of Education will extend your repayment term and limit your monthly payment based on your discretionary income. Depending on your income and family size, your payments could drop significantly, making them more affordable.

You can apply for an IDR plan online.

5. Use the debt avalanche method

Since you have $50,000 in student loan debt, you likely have several different student loans. They probably have different interest rates and monthly payments, too.

To pay off your student loans and save money, using the debt avalanche method might be a good option. Under this strategy, you list your debt from the highest interest rate to the lowest. You continue making the minimum payments on all of the loans, but any extra money you have — even if it’s just $20 each month — goes toward the loan with the highest interest rate.

Once the loan with the highest rate is paid off, you roll the payment were making on that loan toward the debt with the next highest rate. Because you’re paying off the highest interest debt first, the debt avalanche method will help you save money over the length of the repayment term.

Learn More: How to Use the Debt Avalanche Method

Monthly payments on $40k to $60k in student loans

With $50,000 in student loan debt, your monthly payments can be quite expensive. Depending on how much debt you have and your interest rate, your payments will likely be about $500 per month or more.

Loan balanceMonthly paymentTotal repaid
Monthly payments based off the assumption that the loans have a fixed interest rate of 7% and that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

You can also use the student loan repayment calculator to estimate how much your payments will be.

About the author
Kat Tretina
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is an authority on student loans and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, Business Insider, and more.

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