The New Odd Couple: Marriage and Student Loan Debt

marriage and student loans

Love And Marriage…and Student Debt?

When you think about getting married, chances are your student loan debt is the last thing on your mind. But for many, it comes to the forefront soon after tying the knot. Joining finances and bills is already hard enough, without the added stress of student loan debt. But in today’s world that’s precisely what most newlyweds have to deal with. Here’s a look at how being in debt from college can impact your marriage.

student loan debt

marriage certificate

Joint finances are hard enough even without the added complication of disproportionate student debt.

Jeffrey Dew, an associate professor at Utah State University, has found that financial disagreements are a strong predictor of divorce—couples who argued over finances several times a week were more than 30 percent more likely to divorce than those who only did so less than once a month.

In one recent survey, 44 percent of Americans said personal finances were the toughest thing to talk about—ahead of religion, politics, and even death.

Disproportionate student debt can make that already-challenging conversation all the more complicated.

A survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 57 percent of respondents had reservations about being in a relationship with someone with a large amount of debt, with 37 percent saying that they’d wait to get married until the debts were repaid, and slightly more—46 percent—saying they’d be open to getting married and jointly paying off the debt.

Those reservations result in real—and documented—difficulties for people with large amounts of debt when it comes to getting married.

Dora Gicheva, an assistant professor in economics at the University of North Carolina, studies how debt affects education and relationships.

She recently published a study on how people with large debt burdens fare when trying to settle down.

“There are a couple of previous economic studies that find student loans to affect other areas of graduates’ lives, for example their career choices, so it seemed reasonable to expect marriage decisions to be affected as well,” says Gicheva. – via The Atlantic

Did You Know That Getting Married Can Affect Your Student Loan Debt Repayment?

Not only can your student loan debt affect your marriage, but your marriage can affect your student loan debt repayment! That might sound crazy, but it’s true! If you want to know more about the stress of student loan repayment, read on.

When it comes to marriage, preparing how to deal with combined finances is – almost – as important as finding the right spouse. Here’s what newlyweds can do to prepare for a marriage’s effect on student debt.

Know who’s responsible: When it comes to student loans, “a lot of people worry, ‘Is my spouse ever going to be responsible for this?'” says Joshua Cohen, a Vermont-based attorney who focuses on student loans.

“The truth is a lot of it depends on what state you live in and if it’s a federal loan or a private loan,” says Cohen.

All federal loans – and a number of private loans – contain a death discharge when the original borrower dies. In that case, widowed spouses know that the lender won’t come after them or their estate seeking payments. Private loans without that clause can be a risk for borrowers’ families and cosigners. When considering a private loan, “borrowers should read the fine print,” says Blontz.

In certain cases, loans borrowed during the marriage may become both partners’ responsibility. “Sometimes student loans you get during marriage are deemed to be marital debt,” says Heather Jarvis, an attorney specializing in student loans. “That’s particularly true if you’re in a community property state.”

Cosigning on a partner’s student loan will make a spouse responsible for the debt if the borrower neglects to repay. Refinancing student loan debt under both names can also set up both partners to adopt ownership of the loan. – via US News & World Report

Are you a newlywed with student loan debt? Does your spouse also have debt from college? What will you do to safeguard your marriage against the stressors of debt?

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