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Can Spouses Combine Student Loans: Pros and Cons Explained

combine student loans

Marriage is a significant personal and financial commitment. As a result, you’ll need to adjust to each other’s lifestyles, routines, and holiday traditions. You might even decide to combine student loans to make budgeting easier.

But, can your combine student loans with your spouse’s?

When you think about it, the average college graduate has between eight and ten separate debts when they leave school. 

If you’re a married couple, you could be dealing with anywhere from 16 to 20 student loans, each with its due date and servicer, causing tremendous monthly stress.

This guide will show you the pros and cons, including how to combine student loans. 

With that said, let’s begin. 

Combine Student Loans: What Does it Mean? 

You can have multiple loan servicers to whom you make monthly payments if you have student loans. However, keeping track of several loan servicers can be challenging, and it’s simple to forget to pay one of them. 

Late payments can harm your credit score and result in additional late penalties. And that’s why many borrowers want to consolidate their debts. Consolidation or combing your student loans is the process of combining several loans into a single loan with a new servicer. 

Borrowers consolidate loans so that they have to keep track of one payment rather than multiples.

Consolidating student loans is similar to refinancing because it frequently results in a new loan provider. The fundamental purpose of consolidating, on the other hand, is to combine all of your existing loans into a single new loan. 

If you choose a longer loan term, you may pay a higher interest rate or more interest throughout the loan.

Can You Combine Student Loans With Your Spouse? 

It’s impossible to combine your school loans with your spouse. Student loan spousal consolidation loans are no longer available from the federal government.

From 1993 through 2006, the U.S. Education Department offered spousal consolidation loans, often known as joint consolidation loans. It allowed two married federal loan borrowers to consolidate their debts into a single loan.

Your existing loans are paid off with a consolidation loan. You’re left with a single loan and a single payment to make each month. It’s a technique that can make the repayment procedure go more smoothly. 

You have one joint consolidation debt rather than many monthly payments.

In theory, the concept may seem appealing. However, this method of consolidating student loans has several drawbacks.

How To Combine Student Loans With Your Spouse 

To use your spouse as a cosigner on your student loans, you should refinance them first.

It works like this. To apply for a loan, you’ll need to locate a lender who will accept a cosigner. Once you respond “yes” to whether you have a cosigner, you’ll provide their legal name, Social Security Number, birth date, and salary. 

Upon completion of the refinance, your spouse’s credit record should show the loan as having been completed.

The Problems Associated With Spousal Consolidation Loans 

combine student loans

Spousal consolidation loans may appear to be a quick cure – a way to simplify an already complicated repayment procedure. However, getting out of college debt will be far more complex.

First, you’re both responsible for the consolidation debt, with no means to get out if you want to. So far as you stay married, it may not seem like an issue during the duration of the loan.

How Spousal Consolidation Loans Work After A Divorce

Your loan situation could become a massive problem if you are planning to divorce. Divorce and spousal debt consolidation can be an absolute nightmare. Here’s why:

PSLF Isn’t An Option For You 

PSLF is available only for direct loans. So you can’t apply for this forgiveness program if your joint spousal loan is an FFEL loan and not a Direct loan.

Being Obliged To Keep In Tough After A breakup.

It’s difficult to “move on” when you’ve been paying your ex for ten years and still have a loan sum to pay off. Also, having an ex-spouse remain in your life because of an outstanding shared spousal loan can be difficult.

Making Your Student Loan Payments More Manageable Is a Difficult Task.

Things may get complicated if you want to reduce your monthly payments and more favorable repayment terms. If one party wants to take advantage of income-based repayment options, both parties must provide income information. 

That could be a lot to ask of your ex, especially if you don’t get along.

Challenges in Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.

If you or your ex becomes disabled permanently, the loan may be discharged for the disabled spouse. Even so, both spouses (or ex-spouses) are responsible for the remainder of the debt.

Furthermore, if your joint consolidation debt defaults, your choices for getting back into good standing are restricted. Consolidating your loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan is one way to get out of default.

However, because your loans have already been combined, you’ll need to go through loan rehabilitation. So, repaying student debts using these types of loans might be difficult.

When Does It Make Sense To Combine Student Loans? 

Under the right circumstances, spousal loan consolidation can be highly beneficial.

Some loan servicers examine both partners’ debt and income rather than just one of you, based on your combined financial information. This could result in a significantly lower interest rate, saving you money over time.

Below are some reasons why combining your student loans with your spouse makes sense. That way, you’ll know if it’s ideal for both of you or not. 

1. A Low-Income Or Stay-at-Home Parent Is Ideal For This Type Of Loan 

If you want to refinance your student loans, you’ll have difficulty getting accepted by a private lender if your income is low.

Some lenders consider the combined income of both spouses when refinancing student loans for a married couple. In other words, if one of the partners is a stay-at-home parent or earns a lower salary, the other partner is likely to be accepted.

2. If One Partner Has A Higher-Level Degree 

Some lenders consider whether or not a married couple should consolidate their debts based on one of the partners having a higher education. This is because the interest rate offered on a student loan rises directly to the student’s degree level. 

The higher one’s educational attainment, the greater one’s earning potential. Advanced education is a strong indicator of a person’s ability to earn a living and pay back their loans. 

For private lenders, Ph.D., a master’s degree, or a medical degree is preferred over a bachelor’s degree.

3. If One Partner Has A Massive Debt 

Private lenders use your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to determine if you qualify for a loan. Your DTI improves when you have more combined income and less debt.

That gives you and your partner a better chance of being viewed as a team. When considered in the context of the family, what was problematic for one person may be tolerable for the whole.

Loan lenders are looking for a DTI of less than 40 percent of your total gross income. Therefore, before applying for a refinanced student loan, you should work to lower your DTI if it’s more than 40 percent.

4. One Of You Will Need To Have A Better Credit Score 

Couples’ credit scores can differ significantly. If one partner has a poorer credit score, refinancing student loans may be out of the question.

For a new loan, the interest rate and terms will be based on the superior credit of one of the spouses (usually over 670).

Combine Student Loans With Your Partner: Pros And Cons 

combine student loans

Pros 

1. You’ll Have A Better Chance Of Obtaining A Debt Consolidation Approved

You can provide your joint income and spending on your application for a spousal consolidation loan. You have a higher chance of getting authorized for debt consolidation and qualifying for a reduced interest rate if you have a larger income. 

Spousal consolidation is very beneficial if one spouse stays at home or earns much less than their partner.

2. You’ll Only Have To Make One Monthly Payment.

According to Saving for College, people’s average amount of student loans after graduation is eight to ten separate loans. That means a married pair could have about 20 loans to remember, each with its monthly due dates.

If that sounds daunting, spousal consolidation might be a good idea. You’ll consolidate your loans and only have to keep track of one loan and one monthly payment. This can help you manage your family’s finances more efficiently monthly.

3. You’ll Have To Deal With One Loan Servicer.

If you have multiple student loans, they may all be serviced by various loan servicers. Dealing with several loan servicers can be aggravating because servicers differ so much in terms of customer service and ease. 

When you refinance your loans together, you’ll have to deal with one loan servicer in the future.

Cons 

1. You’ll Lose Any Federal Benefits 

When you combine your loans, they become private student loans. And you’ll no longer qualify for federal loan benefits.

That means you’ll miss out on benefits like IDR plans, deferment or forbearance, and PSLF if you previously used federal student loan benefits.

If either works for a government agency or a non-profit, losing your loan forgiveness eligibility can be a significant setback.

2. If Your Spouse Dies, You Could Be Liable For The Entire Sum

When you apply to combine student loans, you and your spouse share responsibility for the debt. However, if something terrible happens and one of you dies, the remaining spouse may still be liable for the entire debt. 

Even though the deceased spouse held most of the original debts, this is true.

If you maintained the loans separately, your spouse’s creditors would likely dismiss the obligation entirely if they died, relieving you of the burden.

3. Breaking Up Might Be Tougher

It’s difficult to talk about this subject, but it’s essential. If the worst happens and you end up divorcing, dealing with a spousal consolidation loan can be difficult because you are equally responsible for the debt.

It’s preferable to address those concerns before you get farther into debt. However, there may also be tax issues that require your full attention.

Consolidating Student Loans Is A Big Decision

If you and your spouse have decided to combine student debts, make sure you’re both on the same page about any potential concerns, such as replies to questions like:

  • Do you want to lower your monthly payment? 
  • What method will be used to make the monthly payments?
  • What are your refinancing objectives? 
  • Getting out of debt as quickly as possible?
  • How will refinancing affect your other financial objectives?
  • Are you planning to cut your interest rate? 

Only you and your spouse can determine whether consolidating your student loans is the best option for you. If it’s best for you, your marriage, and your finances, don’t be scared to take the initiative.

Combine Student Loans: Can Couples Refinance? 

You can combine your student loans even if the federal government no longer offers spousal consolidation loans.

Spousal Refinancing

To consolidate loans with your spouse, consider refinancing options from credit unions and banks.

A spousal refinance is available for married couples that qualify. For example, some banks use a combination of your credit history and income to determine your eligibility for a loan. Your spouse’s higher credit score gets you the best interest rate. 

You may be able to save money on your student loans by refinancing them.

Some refinance businesses don’t allow married couples to refinance their debts simultaneously, which is why it’s important to note.

There are very few instances of people refinancing their mortgages to get out of a relationship with their ex. Instead, two lawful borrowers combine their debts in a joint consolidation. To refinance, you and your co-borrower must agree and select a lender who permits it.

Some Lenders Don’t Permit Couples To Refinance Their Loans. 

Depending on the lender, you may not be able to refinance all of your student loans at once.

Refinancing student loans from you and your spouse into a single monthly payment may not be as easy as you had hoped.

Only as a person can you consolidate your federal debts; as a couple, this is not possible.

On the other hand, some private lenders allow couples to combine debt. So if you want to refinance your student loans, find out if the lender you’re considering has a policy that allows couples to combine their debts and get a better deal.

What You Need To Know Before Refinancing With Your Spouse 

Consider refinancing your student loans, especially if you have federal loans. Refinancing your student loans entails paying off your federal loans via a private lender, and your current loan amount with your current servicer will be gone. 

All you’ll have left is refinance your student loans, perhaps at a cheaper interest rate.

You’ll lose federal protections like IDR plans and student loan forgiveness because you’ll essentially have a private student loan afterward. 

You should also consider what might happen if you and your partner split after refinancing your two loans.

If interested in your possibilities, inquire about repayment plans, new loan terms, and eligibility with the refinancing providers.

Other Ways Of Handling Your Debt As A Couple 

combine student loans

Even if you don’t decide to refinance your student loans, you may want to tackle the debt as a team. As a married couple, you can take the following steps to reduce your student loan debt:

1. Be Honest With Yourself And Your Partner 

Your relationship may suffer from hiding or ignoring your student loan debt, even if you feel like it’s crushing. You might begin by determining how much you owe, your interest rates, and the terms of your loans.

In addition to discussing your financial situation with your spouse, you should also discuss any additional debts you may have and your financial aspirations. Again, the best way to deal with your debt is to talk openly and honestly with your partner.

2. Know Your Repayment Alternatives 

If you have federal loans, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various repayment plans available and their advantages and disadvantages. 

It’s possible to find federal loan forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans if you’re having problems keeping up with your payments. You may also want to look into refinancing possibilities. 

It’s possible to know what rates and terms you might be eligible for if you refinance by being pre-approved online quickly with several private lenders. This information can help you and your partner determine your relationship’s best course of action.

 Final Thoughts 

Is it a good idea for married couples to combine student loans? As a married couple, refinancing student loans can be beneficial and detrimental. However, based on your personal and financial position, consolidating debts may not make sense. Refinancing your federal student loans with a private refinancing provider should only be done after carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks. You need to come to a shared conclusion about this arrangement because it will affect both of you.