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Student loan options to borrow $50,000

Federal loans fall way short with loan amounts this high.

Your options are slightly limited if you want to take out a $50,000 student loan. The most popular federal programs can barely make a dent in that amount. And watch out for long loan terms — they might be cheaper, but cost significantly more in the long run.

Can I get federal student loans to borrow $50,000?

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans won’t get you far if you need to borrow $50,000 for one year. These loans come with annual and lifetime limits, meaning you’ll have to take out both public and private student loans.

How much you can borrow depends on several factors, including your type of degree, year in school and loan type.

Year in schoolAnnual federal loan limitPrivate loan amount you’d need
First-year undergraduate$9,500$40,500
Second-year undergraduate$10,500$39,500
Third-year undergraduate and beyond$12,500$37,500
Graduate or professional student$20,500$29,500

If the federal government considers you dependent and your parents can qualify for a Parent PLUS Loan, you’re eligible for even less in federal student loans.

Federal loans also come with lifetime limits — undergraduates can only take out $57,000 for their degree. Graduate students can borrow up to $138,500, including undergraduate student loans.

What about PLUS Loans?

You can get a $50,000 student loan through the federal PLUS program — if your school says you need it. Parents of undergraduate and graduate students can borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance as long as they can meet credit requirements or have an endorser who will.

However, these come with higher interest rates and less flexible repayments than other types of federal loans. You might be able to find a better deal with a private lender.

Private student loan providers that offer $50,000

ProviderMaximum annual amountRatesEligibility
CredibleVaries by lender (typically, total certified costs of education minus financial aid already received)0.99% (As low as)Enrolled at least half time in qualifying US educational program, ages 18+ or apply with cosigner
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CommonBond$500,0003.74%–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
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LendingTreeVaries by lender3% (As low as)Eligible expenses from accredited school, US citizen, good to excellent credit or creditworthy cosigner
Citizens Bank$295,0001.03%–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

Typically, private student loan providers offer up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance. While many private lenders have lifetime limits, they’re typically higher than federal limits — especially for advanced degrees.

Still, you might have trouble qualifying for a $50,000 loan from a private lender if you already have at least $100,000 in student debt.

How to pay off $50,000 in student debt

If you’ve got $50,000 in student loans, you’re well above the national average student debt load of $32,731. Consider some of these options to make it more affordable — and help you avoid default.

How your loan term affects monthly repayments

While interest and fees are important, how long you take to pay back your loan might have an even larger impact on how much your loan costs in both the short and long term. Longer repayment terms give you lower monthly repayments, but you’ll end up paying more in interest overall.

Suppose you had a $50,000 student loan with a 5.8% APR — the national average. Here’s how much it would cost per month and in total with different loan terms:

Loan termMonthly repaymentTotal interest paid
7 years$725.64$10,954.03
10 years$550.09$16,011.29
15 years$416.54$24,978.09
20 years$352.47$34,592.92
25 years$316.07$44,819.71

While going for the longest term can cut your monthly repayments by more than half, it more than quadruples your total loan cost. To save the most on your loans, consider going for the shortest loan term you can comfortably afford to pay each month.

Bottom line

Federal loans will leave you short if you need $50,000 for your next year of school unless you apply for a PLUS Loan. But even then, private student loans might be a better option. Before applying for loans, make sure you’ve exhausted all other work-study programs, grants and scholarships you’re eligible for by reaching out to your school’s financial aid office.

Want to learn more about how it all works? Check out our guide to student loans to get a full picture.

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