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Most college graduates leave school with student loans, so if you get married, there’s a good chance that both you and your spouse will have student loan debt. Considering that the typical graduate has eight to 12 different loans, a married couple could have up to 24 loans to manage — which might make the idea of consolidating student loans with your spouse appealing.
If you consolidate your debt, you’ll end up with just one loan to manage and one monthly payment to remember. As of 2020, PenFed Credit Union is the only lender that allows couples to consolidate their loans together. But you do have other options.
Here’s what you should know about consolidating student loans with your spouse:
- Yes, you can consolidate your loans with your spouse
- But you might want to refinance with your spouse as cosigner instead
- Spousal loan consolidation vs. cosigning your partner’s loans
- Managing your money as a couple
Yes, you can consolidate your loans with your spouse
Previously, spouses could consolidate their federal student loans with a federal Joint Consolidation Loan. However, the U.S. Department of Education ended the Joint Consolidation Loan program for married couples in 2006, meaning spouses can no longer consolidate their loans through the federal government.
But combining student loans with your spouse is still possible if you refinance through a private lender like PenFed. PenFed offers spousal student loan consolidation, which allows you to combine your debt into one easy-to-manage loan.
But here’s something you might want to do instead
While PenFed is the only private lender that offers spousal loan consolidation, there’s another workaround: refinancing with your spouse as a cosigner.
If you refinance, you’ll apply with your spouse as a cosigner on the application. While your loans won’t be consolidated together if you’re approved, your spouse will share responsibility for the loan.
If you decide to refinance student loans, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you and your spouse’s needs.
This is easy with Credible. You can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes — as well as see your cosigning options.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)|
|Compare personalized rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!
All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 5Iowa Student Loan Disclosures | 6SoFi Disclosures
Spousal loan consolidation vs. cosigning your partner’s loans
Here are a few critical differences to keep in mind before deciding whether to consolidate or cosign student loans with your spouse:
Pros and cons of spousal loan consolidation
- Good option for stay-at-home spouses: With spousal loan consolidation, the lender will consider your combined income and debt and will determine your interest rate based on the highest credit score and level of education between both of you. If you’re a stay-at-home spouse, earn significantly less than your partner, or didn’t finish college, this could help you qualify for a lower interest rate than if you refinanced your loan.
- Simplify your payments: If you combine your loans with your spouse, you’ll have only one loan as a couple — meaning you’ll have just one payment to worry about.
- Difficult to get out of spousal consolidation: Your spouse will be a joint borrower on the loan application and can’t be removed, even if your relationship sours down the line and you separate or divorce. If you split up, you’ll still share equal responsibility for repaying the loans, even if your spouse’s original debt makes up the bulk of the balance.
- Lack of lender options: PenFed is the only lender that allows spouses to consolidate their loans, which means you can’t shop around for a lower rate.
Check Out: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?
Pros and cons of cosigning your partner’s loans
- Might qualify for a lower interest rate or longer repayment term: If your partner cosigns your loan (or vice versa), you might be approved for a lower interest rate or better repayment term than you’d get on your own. Bad credit student loan refinance is also available from some lenders.
- Might be eligible for cosigner release: Some lenders offer cosigner release after making regular payments on-time for a specific period of time. This means you could have your spouse removed from the loan later on, eliminating their repayment responsibility.
- Multiple lender options: Many refinancing lenders let you add a cosigner to your application, so you’ll have a wider variety of lenders to choose from.
- Will still have multiple loans to manage: While you can refinance and combine your own loans, you can’t combine them with your spouse’s. This means you’ll still have more than one loan to track and repay.
Managing your money as a couple
If you and your partner are struggling with your student loan debt, spousal loan consolidation or student loan refinancing could help streamline your repayment. No matter which approach you take, you might be able to lower your interest rate, pay off your loans faster, and reduce the number of loans you have to manage.
If you decide to refinance, be sure to shop around and consider as many lenders as possible. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.
Keep Reading: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?