Oh, No — I’m MARRIED to Student Loan Debt

What to Know When Your "I do" Includes "I Do Intend to Pay."

If your spouse has student loan debt, what does that mean for you and for your financial future?

What can you do now that will keep you safe throughout the decades ahead, even if something bad happens?

Immediately address the biggest thing you must worry about when your spouse has student loan debt.

spouse has student loan debt

Think, for just a minute, of the unthinkable. What if your spouse dies, leaving you with a mountain of student loan debt that you have to pay off? Are you doomed? Or is there something you can do now to get out of paying thousands back all by yourself later?

To understand what your risks are and what you can do now to protect yourself and your family, be sure you’ve read the article I’ve written entitled “What Happens to Student Loan Debt When You Die?

Take all the safe, legal steps you can to free yourself from your spouse’s student loan debt now.

You don’t have to get a divorce in order to accomplish this. Just do the following six things as soon as you can:

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What Happens to Student Loan Debt After You Die?

No parent wants to consider this — but what happens if one of your children runs up $80,000 in student loan debt, and then perishes in a car accident or dies of cancer? Will your grief be compounded by having to make years (decades!) of student loan payments, until the student loan obligation is paid in full? Every parent needs to be clear on the answer to this question: “What happens to student loan debt after you die?”

The answer is scary, but — there’s great hope for those who can plan ahead just a bit.

What happens to student loan debt after you die?

First, the good news, then the bad news.

1. If the loans are Federal Direct Student Loans (the ones you get only by filling out the FAFSA form), the debt goes away when the borrower dies.

According to U.S. Department of Education policy, if a borrower of a federal student loan dies, the loan is automatically canceled and the debt is discharged by the government. (This is one of many reasons why I urge parents, please — fill out the FAFSA form, even if you’re rich. It’s the only way to get the best, safest student loans in the event that you end up needing them.)

Unfortunately, private student loans do not offer the same protection against liability.

2. If the loans are private student loans, the news is scary.

Very few private student loan lenders offer what are called “death discharge protections” or “death and disability forgiveness policies.” If the borrower dies, someone left behind has to pay up.

Who will that be?

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4 Amazingly Easy Steps To Get Out Of Debt

If you as a parent are out of debt by the day your kid starts college, you’ll have more cash on hand to help with college bills. If you start the process of getting out of debt years before your kid starts college, you’ll have more cash on hand to save for college.

Either way, you’ll dramatically increase the chances that your child will graduate from college and begin adult life debt-free.

Today I’m featuring four amazingly easy steps to get out of debt, from best-selling author Dave Ramsey. These steps to get out of debt are so easy, you can fit them on a post-it note.

get out of debt

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Can College Debt Hurt Academic Performance?

What Does the Research Say?


debt affects academic performance

There’s no question about it; the ability to focus and concentrate for extended periods is absolutely critical to college academic success.

In his outstanding book Deep Work, author Cal Newport says this about extended periods of focus and concentration: “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. It’s like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.”

Can student loan debt interfere with the focus and concentration necessary for doing “deep work”?

College students say yes.

In this article by college student Ashley Bulchandani on dailytarheel.com, she tells adults exactly how she feels. “As a current college student, I am personally struggling with college debt and paying off my loans.” She worries that, “debt accumulation can stress out students and lead to negative behaviors such as drinking, smoking, working a lot, and not focusing in class.” She points to research showing that, “excessive college debt results in overall low academic performance in college and low graduate school attendance.”

The happy news is that parents can help. A lot.

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How College Loans Got So Evil (5-Minute Video)

This Adam Conover Video is Hilarious and Frightening

Today I’m featuring a 5-minute video clip from the popular TV show Adam Ruins Everything. This 5-minute clip is titled, “How College Loans Got So Evil.” It’s funny! But then again, it’s not funny at all — because it’s true.

How College Loans Got So Evil

Please share this post with every parent, teacher, guidance counselor, school staff person, government official, and college staff person you know.

Because we all need to know the truth — so we can take evasive action for the kids we love.

*Viewer discretion is advised

For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free, read on.

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Why You Should Never Cosign a Student Loan

And How to Save Yourself If You've Already Done It

Parent, I urge you: DO NOT cosign a student loan for your child.

Today I’m featuring information from an article by nationally syndicated radio host and author Clark Howard. I consider this to be must-read info for every parent. After you read below, you can find articles by Clark Howard, listen to his radio show, view his videos, and sign up to receive his money-saving advice right in your email inbox at ClarkHoward.com.

Are you considering cosigning a loan for an adult child who needs a car, a student loan, or a credit card?

Here are 7 deeply concerning things you need to be aware of before you pick up that pen.

cosign a student loan

1. If you cosign a student loan, you may unwittingly strain future family relationships.

Nobody likes to think about this, but there’s an almost four in 10 chance that when you cosign a student loan, you will be the one who has to pay off the balance. A CreditCards.com survey found that of the cosigners they surveyed, 38 percent had to pay some or all of the loan balance or credit card bill because the primary borrower did not, 28 percent experienced a drop in their credit score because the person they chose to cosign for paid late or not at all, and 26 percent said the cosigning experience damaged their relationship with the person they cosigned for.

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9 Reasons to Talk your Kid OUT of Applying to the Ivy League

Parents, you feel a lot of pressure to get your kids into a “good” college after high school. An “Ivy League” university would be ideal! But is all the work and stress really worth it?

Probably not, honestly.

Ivy League

William Deresiewicz, former Yale professor and author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life has a fascinating take on this question.

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“Can I Take a Full Load of College Classes in High School and Still Have a Full ‘High School Experience’?”


A 10th grader contacted me recently and asked me this great question about taking college classes in high school.

“Jeannie, I know that you strongly recommend dual enrollment college classes in high school for kids who want to get through college debt-free. I want to do dual enrollment full time in 11th and 12th grades so that I’ll have two years of college done by the time I graduate from high school. But my parents are trying to steer me toward doing dual enrollment only just part time. They’re worried that if I take a full load of dual enrollment college classes in high school, I’ll miss out on ‘the full high school experience.’ What do you think?”

My answer is below. college classes in high school

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Must-Listen 9-Minute Dave Ramsey Rant Against Student Loan Debt

Caution, Though; Dave's Wrong About Two Things!

I love Dave Ramsey’s video rant about student loan debt, which you can watch at the link I’ve provided below.

(Listen for my favorite Dave line in this rant: “I missed where the lady got helped.”)

If you’ve got 9 minutes to listen to this while getting ready for work in the morning or while cooking dinner, please do!

As you listen, though, be aware that Dave Ramsey is wrong about two things:

1. Dave Ramsey’s wrong when he says that your in-state college or university is automatically your bargain choice.


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Social Security Checks Garnished To Pay for College

Elderly Parents in Poverty, Still Paying for Their Kids' College

Could you one day have your social security checks garnished to pay for your kids’ college?


You may be in danger of having your social security checks garnished and not even realize it.

Parents duped into taking out Parent PLUS loans to pay for their kids’ college can find themselves on the hook for hundreds or thousands of dollars each month, right at a time of life where they may be wanting to (or worse, needing to) retire.

social security checks garnished

The Danger of Parent PLUS Loans

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