Shared mailing address, check. Shared bank account, check. Shared student loan payments…..uncheck.
If you're married and still paying down student loan debt, you might be wondering whether it’s possible for you and your spouse to consolidate your student loans together into one monthly payment.
It’s an idea that sounds good in theory, right? In most cases, though, consolidating your student loans together with your partner is not an option.
The good news is that there are lots of other ways for you and your spouse to reduce your monthly payments.
Coming up with a repayment plan together
Talking about student loan debt isn’t the most exciting thing to do on a Friday night. But if you’re committed to paying off your debts together, then you need to come up with a plan.
You’ve already established that consolidating your loans together is probably not an option. But what about refinancing your student loans individually?
When you refinance your student loans, you can save money in the short-term and over the life of the loan.
By swapping out your individual existing loans for new ones with lower interest rates, you’ll both be able to get a lower monthly payment.
That means you can also direct more of your monthly payments towards loan principal—which leads to paying off debt faster.
Both federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing through a private lender.
However, it’s important to note that if you refinance a federal loan, you’ll lose all the benefits that come with it. These include access to income-based repayment programs, as well as eligibility for forbearance, deferment, and loan forgiveness.
Ask yourselves these questions before moving forward
Tackling student loan debt incurred before your marriage requires collaboration, cooperation, and communication. Ask yourselves the following questions when creating your plan to pay off your student loans:
Which loans do we tackle first?
Obviously, you’re going to pay on all of your debt, but prioritizing the loans in order of importance is essential. A good strategy is to focus on paying down or refinancing high-interest or variable rate loans.
What can we put on hold?
Paying down debt often requires putting other things on hold. Make a list of all the places your money goes each month. Decide which ones can either be minimized or put on hold. For example, you may want to temporarily direct less money to your savings and put more toward your student loan payment.
How will we make monthly payments?
You may want to set up a separate joint checking account just for student loan payments. A percentage of your monthly income can be transferred to this account and used only for student loan debt.
Consider setting up automated payments to make this process smoother.
Will our tax status affect an income-based repayment plan?
If you file your taxes as “married filing jointly,” your monthly payment could go up—a lot. Also, your dual household income may make you ineligible for these plans.
Who’s going to manage the payments?
If you decide not to set up automated payments, is the loan-payment responsibility going to land with the partner who pays the bills each month or do you plan on designating one person to oversee all student loan payments?
What are our goals for refinancing?
Does your current arrangement allow you to significantly lower your interest rate and decrease monthly payments?
If you’re working towards buying a house or starting a family, for example, paying off student loan debt sooner can help bring you closer to that goal.
To find out how much you could save from refinancing, check out our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator.