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Student Loans

How Marriage Affects Student Loans

When it comes to student loans and your marriage, in most cases, you’re not responsible for your spouse’s debt. However, marriage might affect how much you and your spouse must make in monthly payments. Whether you’re about to get married or are newlyweds, it’s important to take a careful look at your student loans, including the balance, repayment plans, and how your income may affect them. 

We’ll cover common ways marriage can affect your student loan. 

Answers to 7 questions about student loans and marriage

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions about student loans and marriage. You can see how marriage may affect your student loan situation and be armed with the knowledge to make plans that best suit your and your spouse’s needs. 

How marriage affects… What happens?
Student loan repaymentMonthly payments could be affected on income-driven repayment plans by potentially including both spouses’ incomes (depending on your claiming status when you file your taxes).
Student loan interest tax deductionsThose filing jointly can qualify if their MAGI is below a certain amount.
Your credit scoreNo changes in most cases
Your responsibility for your spouse’s student loansFor most loans, each spouse is responsible for their own. Exceptions include cosigned loans and those married in community property states.
Student loan and financial aid eligibilityA spouse’s income and financial situation can affect the amount of financial aid you qualify for.
Student loan refinancing or student loan consolidationCan consolidate or refinance separately for both federal and private student loans
Student loans in the event of a divorceEx-spouses are generally jointly responsible in a community property state. Cosigners are still legally responsible in the event of a divorce. 

1. How does marriage affect student loan repayment?

When it comes to federal student loans, your monthly payments could change. In most cases, if either of you are on a traditional repayment plan, your monthly payments remain the same. This type of repayment plan is based on your loan balance, interest rate, and a predetermined repayment schedule (in most cases, 10 years). 

You may see your monthly payments change on income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. Your tax filing status will affect your monthly payments for most IDR plans. You need to recertify your income each year, so you’ll declare your joint income after getting married. In most cases, your and your spouse’s income are considered together if you file a joint tax return. 

An exception is if you’re on the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan (formerly the Revised Pay as You Earn [REPAYE] plan). Both of your incomes count even if you file taxes separately. If you and your spouse both earn income, the increased amount could mean your student loan payments will go up. That is unless you file separately for the following IDR plans:

If your spouse also has federal student loans, the amount your spouse owes the U.S. Department of Education will prorate your federal student loan payment by considering your spouse’s debt. In other words, your repayment amount is prorated based on your share of your combined federal student loan amount, as you can see in the example scenario below:

BorrowerLoan amountRepayment share (monthly payment) with IDR
You$30,00060% ($300)
Spouse$20,00040% ($200)
Combined$50,000100% ($500)

When it comes to private student loans, your student loan repayment is generally not affected after you get married. However, if you or your spouse take out a student loan and one of you is the cosigner, the cosigner is responsible for the payments if the main borrower can’t pay. 

Our expert’s recommendations for married couples

Erin Kinkade


If one spouse doesn’t have student loans, and the non-borrowing spouse has a better credit report and score, it may be beneficial to add the non-borrowing spouse to the loan in an effort to obtain better terms. If the marriage places the couple in an excess monthly cash flow position, they should consider accelerating payments toward the student debt (after establishing a healthy emergency fund and optimizing retirement savings). If the couple has a complicated or complex financial situation, it would be wise to engage a CPA and possibly a financial counselor or other financial professional to help them navigate the best way to reduce the student loan debt while also maintaining a current enjoyable lifestyle and planning for future life and financial goals. If a couple lives in a community property state, I recommend meeting with an estate planning attorney who can draft documents to keep specific assets separate (if that is in the couple’s best interest).

2. How does marriage affect student loan interest tax deductions?

Marriage can affect student loan interest tax deductions. How much you can deduct will depend on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)

For the 2024 tax year, you can deduct up to $2,500 for student loan interest if you earn less than $75,000. The amount you can deduct phases out if your MAGI is between $75,000 to $90,000. You can’t deduct student loan interest once your MAGI is higher than $90,000. 

Married couples filing jointly have higher MAGI cutoffs. Those with a MAGI less than $155,000 can deduct up to the full interest loan deduction amount, and couples with a MAGI between $155,000 and $185,000 can qualify for a reduced amount. MAGIs above $185,000 don’t qualify. 

However, if you decide to file taxes separately from your spouse, you may not qualify for the student loan interest deduction. It’s best to speak with a tax professional to see how it may affect you both.

3. How does marriage affect your credit score if you or your spouse have student loans?

In most cases, marriage doesn’t directly affect your credit score. What can affect your credit score after marriage is your credit behavior. For example, if your spouse decides to cosign on your private student loan, your payment history can boost your credit score if you pay on time. The opposite can happen if you’re late or miss payments. 

Student loans acquired after marriage could count as joint debts, even if one of your names is on the loan. Couples living in a community property state will have their debts considered community debt if either spouse takes out a student loan after marriage. 

4. Am I responsible for paying my spouse’s student loans?

That depends on the type of student loan and when you and your spouse took them out. You and your spouse are liable for your federal student loan debts by law. Even if you help each other and make payments, you’re each legally responsible for your own.

When it comes to private student loans, you’re likely responsible for your own if you took out the loans before the marriage. The exception would be if one of you were the loan’s cosigner. Couples living in a community property state are responsible for loans taken out after the marriage. 

Like federal student loans, you and your spouse can choose to help make payments toward each other’s loans. However, the person responsible for them is the one whose name is on the loan documents. 

5. How does marriage affect student loan and financial aid eligibility?

Your marriage can affect your financial aid eligibility because of your joint income. The U.S. Department of Education uses a formula to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for—it’s typically based on your school’s cost of attendance and your Student Aid Index (SAI). 

Married couples’ incomes will be scrutinized, and your income can affect how much aid you may be eligible for. So if your spouse’s financial situation improves, you may get less federal aid, and vice versa.

When filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will need to indicate your marital status the day you submit this form. If you get married after submitting the FAFSA, contact the financial aid office at your school 

Your spouse’s credit score shouldn’t affect your eligibility for private student loans unless you are applying for a joint loan. If your spouse is your cosigner, the lender will take their credit score into consideration during the loan underwriting process. 

6. How does marriage affect student loan refinancing or consolidation?

Married couples can no longer consolidate their federal student loans together, but they can do so separately. Consolidating federal student loans can come with a whole host of benefits, including simplifying loan payments. Each spouse must apply separately to determine whether they qualify for federal student loan consolidation. 

Consolidating separately could be beneficial, especially if one spouse may lose certain benefits. For example, payments toward income-driven repayment forgiveness plans may no longer count for those who consolidate federal loans, but the spouse who doesn’t consolidate could qualify. 

You can refinance federal and private student loans for those going the private student loan route. You likely won’t be able to refinance jointly, but some private lenders may do. 

Before refinancing your federal student loans with a private lender, consider whether this is the best option. Refinancing could mean losing access to federal student loan benefits, including income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness. 

7. How does marriage affect student loans if you get divorced?

The effect of divorce on your federal and private student loans depends on where you reside. This determines who is responsible for the loan. Couples in these community property states who took out student loans after marriage are likely responsible for either spouse’s debts:

Depending on what the courts decide, both spouses might be legally obligated to pay off the couple’s student loans. One exception could be that you and your ex-spouse agree during the divorce settlement that each of you is responsible for your own student loan debts. 

However, if you or your spouse cosigned on a loan, the cosigner is still legally responsible for payments whether or not you live in a community property state. A lender has a right to ask the cosigner to pay for a loan if the main borrower doesn’t or defaults. 

Where to get help on marriage and student loans 

Regarding your marriage and student loans, being upfront and honest about your financial situation is important. Now that you’re a team, looking at how different scenarios may affect payments and taxes will help you come up with a plan that offers the best financial outcome.

Since student loans and filing taxes can get complicated, it makes sense to get professional help. If you’re unsure how your marriage may affect your monthly payments, speak to your lender or loan servicer and be transparent about upcoming changes. Then you may be able to see whether your payments will change. 

For example, if you’re on an income-driven repayment plan and file taxes jointly, you’ll want to speak with your loan servicer to see whether it considers both incomes when recalculating monthly payments. That often depends on the income-driven repayment plan you’re on. 
If you’re unsure whether to file jointly or separately—and whether the pros outweigh the cons in either scenario—speaking with a tax professional can help you figure out the tax benefits you could lose by filing separately.