Consumer Reports: Getting married with student debt
About 60 percent of recent college graduates borrowed money to pay for school, each graduating with an average of $28,500 in debt. For those thinking about marrying, figuring out how to manage those loans can get complicated. Consumer Reports reveals what you need to understand about student debt before the wedding.
In fact, in a nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, 28 percent of adults 40 and under who are out of college and have student-loan debt said they had to delay buying a house. In some cases, getting married can increase your monthly student-loan payments.
If you’re on an income-based repayment program and your household income goes up, your monthly payment may go up, too. But it also depends on other factors, such as whether your spouse has student debt or whether you file your taxes jointly.
If you continue to file your taxes separately in most cases, your student-loan payments should remain about the same as they were before marriage. That’s because payments will still be based on just the borrower’s income. Use the Department of Education’s repayment estimator to get a rough idea.
While filing separately could mean a lower monthly payment, it will exclude you from important tax benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child and dependent care tax credit, and your deduction for student loans.
We advise you to pay off your loan as quickly as you can afford to. Your monthly payment will be higher, but you’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan. And then you’ll have more money for other important goals, like buying a house or starting a family.
Another point: Getting married doesn’t mean you’re responsible for your spouse’s existing debt if you find as a couple you’re having trouble paying it off. Unless you co-signed the loan, usually the borrower is the person who has to pay it back.