How Your Spouse's Student Loans Affect You

VD August 08 2021

These days, alarmingly lots of people are avoiding marriage. You might be thinking that the cause of this strange behavior is technology. People are giving a lot of their time to smartphones and video games, which creates distance between people, but this is not the only reason. One of the main reasons for putting off marriage is heavy student loans in times of low-income jobs. Who will think about marriage when you cannot even afford your monthly student loan payments?

Student loans and marriage, unfortunately, do not go well together. Getting married will have quite an impact on your student loan payment, tax-related matters, and other financial goals. Both the partners are responsible for the loans they took before starting down this road.

Let's discuss some points about how marriage will affect your student loans.

Increased monthly payments

If you have received a loan by enrolling in income-driven plans, there will be an increase in monthly loan payments. The plan will be revised according to your income. The calculator will calculate the monthly payment by combining both your and your spouse's income.

If you have taken the loan through other plans, you might be able to pay your loans separately. But you will lose the tax break other joint filers receive.

No Interest Deduction from Student Loans

People who earn less than $85,000 annually might receive an interest deduction in their student loans. People making less than $70,000 can save up to $2,500. But the rules change after marriage. If your combined income is more than $160,000, you will not get any interest deductions, not even by filing separately.

Spouse's Payments Might Impact Your Finances

When you sign a loan contract as a co-signer for your spouse, you can be held responsible if your spouse cannot pay their debt. The loan will appear on both your credit reports and might affect your chance to get a mortgage.

If your spouse takes a student loan during marriage and becomes a defaulter, the lender can go for your pay, assets, or tax refund. The government will also deduct the loan from your tax refund.

Divorce Can Make Things Complicated

If you get a divorce, the situation will become quite complex. You might have to divide the debt between you and your spouse irrespective of whose loan it was. But it depends on the time when the loan was taken.

If you took the loan before marriage, then it's solely your responsibility to pay it off, and the same applies to your spouse.

But if the loan was acquired during the marriage, the situation will become very complicated. Everything will depend upon the state, laws, money spent, and many other aspects. If you are a co-signer, there is no way out for you unless you can get a co-signer release.


Student loans can have a great impact on a marriage, so make sure to consider this aspect before deciding to tie the knot.


Can a student loan affect my spouse?

It usually does not unless your spouse co-signs the loan contract.

If your spouse takes a student loan after marriage, will it affect me?

Yes, the loans after marriage are joint loans. Even if you are not a co-signer, you will be held responsible.



“Crushing student debt” is one of the most controllable and avoidable debts a person can have. You can work and go to school part time. You don’t have to go to an expensive school — junior colleges are a great and inexpensive way to get through the first 2 years.
knife14 / 2021-08-17 11:05:13

I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. At 18 years old (or 17, for some folks like me), college can be very much dictated by a person’s parents - where they think you should go or where you believe they expect you to go (for both the weight of the institution in future job-hunting and the prestige - or rather, the lack of prestige at junior/community colleges and the like). Since many college students need their parents to take on loans in order to go to school in their first year, parents can end up with a lot of say in what that decision might be. I know my parents looked down on the idea of a junior or community college and since they were essentially paying (at least for that first year), I felt like my only option was the expensive state college - I don’t even think I applied for anywhere else. Now that they’re still paying off that first year’s loans, my mom looks back and says “it would have been better if you’d done the A+ program (tutoring elementary and middle school students) and gotten those two free years of junior college”. However, those credits wouldn’t have transferred to any college but a community college, if at all. And another, perhaps bigger issue, is the complete lack of important financial information taught to kids before they go off and sign their lives away to tens of thousands of dollars in debt - there isn’t a lot of explaining done by financial aid advisors when applying for money to keep you in school and on top of that, even if there was, a poor kid desperately trying to keep their ass in school and get that degree can mean you’re not exactly soaking in the details because you’ve been taught (read: brainwashed/indoctrinated) your whole life to believe that a degree is your only way to make a living.
notatest / 2021-09-17 09:47:21

What happens if you work full time go to school part time and live on your own and you just happen to be working at a min wage type job such as food service which allows you the flexibility to go to school but barely covers rent let alone college classes? Asking for a friend..... My debt isn’t “crushing” but it is 35k roughly and I accrued it mainly because not only did student loans cover my classes but also some of the money I got as a “refund” went towards living expenses. I went to a community college nothing fancy.
beardedphoenixsic / 2021-10-04 01:42:02

I worked full time - at times two jobs - at a state school in a low-cost state and still have student loan debt. But sure, it’s all students’ faults.
crabbers / 2021-10-15 04:18:24

That’s probably true, but it’s hard to avoid when everyone tells you that college is necessary in order to get a well-paying job. Then you graduate and the only jobs you can get are $11 an hour or a non-paid internship which forces you to choose paying rent over paying your debt. Both my 18 year old self and baby-boomer parents never saw this future happening to an entire generation. Shits broken as hell. Education shouldn’t be an investment, it should be a basic necessity.
ice7478 / 2021-11-06 09:32:02

Nobody wants to hear your sanctimonious bullshit right now, fuck off.
lagrapadora / 2021-11-15 22:02:53

This comment sounds like it’s coming from a place of privilege. There are a lot of different circumstances where the scenarios your presented aren’t an option to people.
alexanderxgreat / 2021-12-08 03:16:31

Not to be an asshole, but community colleges aren’t always great ideas - far fewer students complete a two-year degree (I think about 22%) or transfer to a four-year college (less than 10%) than those who complete a four-year degree at a traditional college (60% within 6 years). A lot of this is probably due to the wider population of students at a community college, but lots of kids look at it as, “It’s just community college, it can’t be that hard, I’ll take 3 classes and work full-time” and slowly drop out completely because they make the decision that working full-time at 19 is more lucrative.
gingerkeeperreboot / 2021-12-18 10:49:49

I went to a pretty standard, mid-tier state school for undergrad. In my first two years, I took only two courses (Physics, Calc-based) that were offered at the local community college. Some majors start a lot of specific curriculum in the second year, for which CC would just be wasted time.
triohead / 2022-01-03 07:41:44

What happens when a spouse passes away? That’s my biggest obstacle. I don’t want my partner stuck with my school loans (incurred before we got together) on top of dealing with my death. It used to be that the loans were wiped out when a person died. But I have no idea anymore.
mogillette / 2022-01-19 04:34:16

Good question. I’ve heard of that happening, but I’m not sure if it’s still the case.
littlejohnharrisonfordprefect / 2022-02-04 01:26:58

Not an expert, but generally so long as the surviving spouse didn’t co-sign the loan, the debt would not transfer. My dad had some student loans left from a later-in-life masters that were wiped out upon his passing.
rawrhaha / 2022-02-24 16:34:47

Federal loans will usually be discharged upon the borrower’s (or student’s) death once a death certificate has been received by the loan servicer, who then submits the proof of death to the DOE.Private loans usually just become the cosigner’s responsibility, though there are a few lenders that will discharge the loan instead (USbank is one, if I recall correctly).One thing people should know is that when you have a loan discharged due to death, or some other types of forgiveness, the discharged amount is counted as taxable income for the deceased’s estate, though I believe this is no longer the case for newer loans.
beandip13 / 2022-03-07 00:08:08

You hope they have really really good life insurance so that you can pay off their crushing debt as part of your grieving process......
beardedphoenixsic / 2022-03-27 15:16:20

If you didn’t cosign and you don’t live in a community property state, then you are off the hook for payback. This has nothing to do with what type of loan you have.If you live in a community property state, then it’s a little bit more complicated if you have something other than a direct loan, meaning a loan that is from the government itself. Those loans are wiped out when the debtor dies, so you have no legal requirement to pay.Other than that - talk to a local lawyer; it can be complicated.
goodandgoodforyou / 2022-04-10 03:00:40

The advice below is sound on federal vs. private. If you have private loans, get life insurance post-haste! It’s worth the peace of mind. I refi’ed my 110k of federal loans to private and promptly bought that much life insurance on myself (plus a little extra) because my spouse makes good money, but I’m not having him deal with loans that I took out years before we got married on top of dealing with everything related to my death.
doorautomatic / 2022-04-29 23:05:06

I think Life Insurance is your best bet.
gingerkeeperreboot / 2022-05-13 10:49:59

One rule that makes paying your mortgage more manageable: “Your house should be no more than two times your joint income if you have debt,” says Hornsby. “You don’t want tons and tons of debt.”Is this saying two times your annual income for the total mortgage of your house or two times your paycheck for your monthly mortgage?
exeros / 2022-05-26 03:32:05

I think they’re saying that if your joint income is 60,000, your house should cost 120,000. That wouldn’t be too challenging in some areas, but downright impossible in expensive housing markets.
Rabbity9 / 2022-06-16 13:41:52

Standard advice is that housing shouldn’t be more than 30% of your income. So you want the whole house price to be twice your annual income, but the payment to be 30% of your monthly income.
rentaduckie / 2022-06-28 11:21:39

Lots of good info here. I think the most important thing mentioned is to discuss all this ahead of time. If you can’t have open discussions about debt and finances, then you probably shouldn’t be getting married. Also, don’t be afraid of a prenup, especially if one of you has significantly more debt or more assets coming into the relationship.
littlejohnharrisonfordprefect / 2022-07-16 17:20:58

My wife and I married back in 2008 during the Great Recession. I just lost my job and my wife had just taken the Bar exam. She had a net worth of -$220K, while I had a net worth of $180K (inheritance from when I lost my dad as a teenager). We didn’t do a prenup; neither one of us believed in them at the time. I say at the time because it seems like people left and right of us are divorcing and boy can it get ugly. It’s much better to come to terms when you are at least amicable towards each other.
kis_ev / 2022-07-30 05:05:50

My wife asked me to do a prenup while we were engaged she had a large trust from her late father). I told her that I totally understand and agreed to it. We never did and got married anyways.
lazylazarus / 2022-08-17 11:05:39

“more likely a consequence of the combination of crushing student loan debt and low-paying jobs that has defined life for many people in Generation Y” - and also throw the outrageous prices for organizing a wedding as the third factor. 
manuall0ver / 2022-08-30 22:50:09

Exactly why my wedding will be me, my fiancee, and a witness. That’s it.
jacqyl-frost / 2022-09-19 18:54:54

Throw out the expectation that weddings have to cost a lot of money.
Rabbity9 / 2022-10-04 01:41:39

If you will want the common things like a dress, food, chairs, etc... it will cost you - it’s a major rip off... so if I was to do it again - I would take those $25k and travel for 3 months instead. Way more fun and memories.
manuall0ver / 2022-10-19 22:34:23

Well, I had no expectation - I just wanted a moderate wedding for 15 people only... and guess what. Dress $3500, venue $2000, video services $8000.... eight f***ing grand... somewhat decent flowers for the bride $500, etc... shortly after you have 15 bare chairs, no decoration and a bit of flowers and a 25k bill.... why? Because good luck finding anyone who hears it’s a wedding and doesn’t mark up 10x.
manuall0ver / 2022-10-31 01:10:56

See, a lot of those just don’t seem like necessary expenses to me. Why spend 2k on a venue if you only have 15 people? The purpose of a venue is to have a nice looking space for a large group. If you don’t have a large group, a much smaller space should be just fine. I’ve been to a lovely living room wedding. Yes, the wedding-industrial complex inflates prices left and right, but you can just sit most of that stuff out. I didn’t have flowers, video services, or even a wedding dress. I wore a very pretty grey and gold dress I found at a secondhand shop for $5.
Rabbity9 / 2022-11-17 12:08:28

Yeah, in that case, I would just do a simple wedding and go to travel. But if you want anything to resemble a classic wedding, you deep into some very expensive waters for barely anything. Value for money is some of the lowest I have seen :/
manuall0ver / 2022-12-08 03:16:09