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Here’s the average student loan debt of borrowers 50 to 61 years old

This age group may have high average student loan balances, but there are less borrowers overall.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

There are far fewer 50- to 61-year-olds who still carry student loan debt compared to younger age groups, but those that do have high average balances.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education's Q4 2020 data, borrowers in this age group have an average balance of $42,290.32, which is nearly as much as the highest average debt load of $42,373.23 carried by the age bracket below them (35- to 49-year-olds).

But while these two age groups, 35-to-49 and 50-to-61, have a similar average balance, the number of overall loan borrowers drastically decreases after age 49. There are just 6.2 million borrowers in the older age group, compared to 14.2 million borrowers in the younger age group.

The numbers illustrate a scenario of borrowers being at different ends of the spectrum. There are those who have completely paid off their student loans by their 50s — signaled by the big drop-off of borrowers — and also those who still have a good chunk of debt to pay off with all the interest that has accrued over most of their adult years — signaled by the high average debt balance.

The data also accounts for parent borrowers who took out student loans in their own name to help finance their children's college education.

Refinancing student loans in your 50s

Whether you are paying off your own student loans or managing the parent PLUS loans you took out for your child, refinancing through a private lender can help you get rid of the debt once and for all.

Given you likely have had your loans for years by the time you turn 50, you may have already refinanced numerous times. The good news is you can refinance your student loans as many times as you'd like. You can also take advantage of your age: If you've been building a history of on-time loan payments all these years, you may have a higher credit score and be in a better spot to qualify for a lower interest rate.

Before you refinance: With the current federal student loan payment and interest freeze, we do not recommend that you consider refinancing any federal or parent PLUS loans until the forbearance ends on Sept. 30, 2021. Refinancing federal loans removes all unique governmental protections like deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, forgiveness programs and widespread student loan cancellation.

Refinancing private student loans amid reported inflation

While interest rates remain low, now is a good time to lock in a lower refinancing rate on your private student loans before rising inflation causes rates to go back up — which has been predicted to happen in late 2022.

To secure a low rate today, you should choose a refinancing lender that offers fixed interest rates. Select analyzed and compared private student loan funding from national banks, credit unions and online lenders to rank your best options. All of the companies on our best-of list offer a variable and fixed refinancing interest rate to choose from, as well as low refinancing rates, flexible loan terms, no upfront origination fee for refinancing or early payoff penalties and financial hardship protection. Read more about our methodology on choosing the best student loan refinance companies below.

Refinancing with a fixed rate versus a variable rate means that you'll pay the same low interest rate for the remaining life of the loan. This is even more beneficial for your wallet if your salary keeps up with the pace of future rising inflation, so you're earning more and accruing less interest. If you pick a variable-rate refinanced loan, its rates are subject to change. When inflation likely triggers rate-increases, variable-rate student loans will also see higher interest rates.

Our methodology

To determine which student loan refinance companies are the best for borrowers, Select analyzed and compared private student loan funding from national banks, credit unions and online lenders. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those that offer low student loan refinancing rates and prequalification tools that don't hurt your credit.

While the companies we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the more competitive interest rates for refinancing, we also compared each company on the following features:

  • Broad availability: All of the companies on our list refinance both federal and private student loans, and they each offer a variable and fixed interest rate to choose from.
  • Flexible loan terms: Each company provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your student loan.
  • No origination or signup fee: None of the companies on our list charge borrowers an upfront "origination fee" for refinancing your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The companies on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We made sure companies offered a fast online application process.
  • Co-signer options: Each company on our list allows for a co-signer if the direct borrower does not qualify for refinancing on their own.
  • Autopay discounts: All of the companies listed already calculate autopay discounts into their advertised rates.
  • Private student loan protections: Though you lose federal student loan benefits when you refinance, each company on our list offers some type of their own financial hardship protection for borrowers.
  • Loan sizes: The above companies refinance loans in an array of sizes, from $5,000 to $500,000. Each company advertises its respective loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be.
  • Credit requirements/eligibility: We took into consideration the minimum credit scores and income levels required if this information was available.
  • Customer support: Every company on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the student loan refinancing process.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall refinancing needs, having a co-signer, applying with a fair credit score, refinancing parent loans and medical school loans.

Note that the rates and fee structures for private student loan refinancing are not guaranteed forever; they are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. Choosing a fixed-rate APR when you refinance will guarantee that your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan.

Your refinanced rate depends on your credit score, income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, savings, payment history and overall financial health. To refinance your student loan(s), lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.