Marriage is an exciting chapter in anyone’s life. Riding off into the sunset to build a life with your partner can sound dreamy. But before you tie the knot, consider how your student loans could impact your future finances as a couple.
Let’s explore how student loans can affect your marriage.
What to know about student loans before getting married
Marriage ties your finances together. Whether you choose to combine funds or not, your financial picture, including student loan debt, affects your day-to-day expenses and long-term goals.
Here’s what you need to know about student loans before diving into marriage.
Joint purchases can be more difficult with student loans
When you have student loans, it’s important to keep the debt you bring into the marriage in mind. A large debt burden can make it more difficult to fund large joint purchases in the future.
For example, let’s say you and your spouse want to buy a house together. If you have a crushing student loan debt burden, then it can be more difficult to qualify for a new mortgage loan.
Even if you do qualify, your student debt might result in unfavorable loan terms that cost you and your spouse thousands of dollars over time.
Before you move forward in matrimony, have an honest conversation about your student loan debt and joint financial goals.
With open communication about the financial reality surrounding student loans, you can avoid potential backlash from your partner who might feel blindsided if you aren’t upfront about the situation.
Income-driven repayment plans can be affected by spousal income
As a single person, you might be able to secure a low monthly payment to your federal student through an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. However, when you bring a spouse into the picture, the details of your IDR plan changes.
Your monthly payment amount is based on information on your tax return—a tax calculator is a great tool for this. If you file your taxes jointly with a spouse, a higher household income leads to a higher monthly student loan payment.
In a situation where you might’ve been eligible for a $0 monthly payment while on an IDR plan, your payment can significantly increase if you’re married and file jointly.
Take a look at how this change impacts your martial budget. Can your household support the increased student loan payments? If a higher monthly student loan obligation creates financial stress, think about how that might impact your relationship.
Student loans could put starting a family on hold
Based on a student loans and marriage survey conducted by Student Loan Planner, 51% of student loan borrowers say that student loans are affecting their plans to have kids. Even more shockingly, one in three student borrowers has delayed having kids because of their student loans.
As you enter into marriage with your partner, your student loan debt might be a serious factor when it comes to family planning timelines.
If you and your spouse want to bring children into your home, then consider how the financial strain of your student loans could affect that choice.
Can you afford to raise a family with the current crunch of your student loan? Have a discussion with your future spouse about the possibilities.
Not every marriage has a happy ending
Unfortunately, not all marriages have a “happily ever after”, and some end in divorce. In terms of student loans, the student debt remaining at the end of the marriage won’t follow the other spouse.
But generally, any contributions you made to help your spouse pay down their student loan debt won’t be accounted for when dividing your assets in court.
Paying down sizable chunks of your spouse’s student loan debt could hurt your financial future if divorce happens.
Of course, thinking about this worst-case scenario is never fun, especially when entering into a marriage. But considering your options surrounding your future spouse’s student loan debt is an important step to take.
How to manage your student loans before and after marriage
If you decide to move forward in marriage with your significant other, then it’s critical to make a plan together. Discuss how the student loans you both have will affect your financial future and what you plan to do about it.
Tackling this major financial hurdle together can help you build a stronger financial relationship together.
As you build a plan to manage your student loans effectively, consider student loan refinancing as an opportunity. Student Loan Planner clients have saved thousands of dollars through repayment strategies that include a student loan refinance.
Through student loan refinancing, you can potentially tap into a lower interest rate that reduces your total repayment costs. However, refinancing your student loans isn’t the best option for everyone.
If you have federal student loans, refinancing forces you to give up lucrative opportunities offered by the federal government.
For example, you’d miss out on the chance for student loan forgiveness through an IDR plan or via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Bottom Line
Marriage is a big step in so many ways. It’s not surprising that your finances and outstanding student loans will affect your plans when building a life with your significant other.
Take the time to work through your options together and decide how to move forward on this issue as a couple.