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.
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:
1. Read the article I’ve written entitled “What Happens to Student Loan Debt When You Die?“
2. If you cosigned your spouse’s student loans, try to get a “cosigner release.”
With private student loans, you may be eligible for a cosigner release if your spouse has made a certain number of consecutive on-time payments and can come out smelling like a rose on a credit check. But note that your spouse will likely have to insistently and proactively “beat down the door” of his or her student loan servicer in order to make this happen.
3. Did you avoid cosigning, but you currently live in a “community property” state?
If you live in a community property state such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin (or, under certain circumstances, Alaska), you will typically be liable for all of your spouse’s debt after he or she dies. However—some community property states mercifully offer exceptions for education debts that will free you from the obligation to pay. To determine what’s true in your particular state and under your particular circumstances, contact your state department of education and ask.
4. As a team, dive full-speed ahead into paying all your student loans off as fast as you can.
Start with your private student loans, because those are the scariest. The article I wrote about 4 Amazingly Easy Steps to Getting Out of Debt will help you tremendously with this project. The resources at DaveRamsey.com (especially Dave’s Financial Peace University) will also help you greatly with the process.
5. Check to see if your spouse’s debt might be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Hundreds of thousands of people in the US work in jobs that qualify for PSLF, and they don’t even know it.
I provide clear information on PSLF on pages 6, 275-276, and 281 of my book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kid Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.
6. Take a moment to make yourself painfully aware of the dire consequences of student loan default.
Remember, if you and/or your spouse ever just quit paying and default on these student loans, you could be slammed with interest and penalties that will double that debt load.
You don’t know what the future holds for the two of you—what financial setbacks you might face on down the line. Make it a goal to get out from under the dark cloud of student loan debt as soon as you possibly can so you can start saving, investing, and growing wealth that will last for generations.
I offer additional free help on getting rid of student loan debt in this 3-article series.
Parent, you can help your kids avoid all of these headaches by getting them through college debt-free to begin with.
For clear, step-by-step help with the whole debt-free college process from beginning to end, get your copy of my book:
It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.
You can see hundreds of reviews of this book on Amazon by going to:
You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.
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Help us out with your experience!
Did you marry student loan debt? Do you have happy or sad stories to share that can serve as warning buoys for others? What did you do to get out from under your student loan debt? LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.
This article was updated on October 27th, 2022.