Are You Required to Repay Your Spouse’s Student Loans If They Die?

Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon

By Mark Kantrowitz

June 2, 2020

If your husband or wife borrowed a student loan, do you have any obligation to repay their student loans upon their death?

If your spouse’s name is the only name on a student loan, and you did not cosign the loan, generally you have no obligation to repay the debt after your spouse dies.

The main exception is if you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) and the loan was borrowed after the marriage but before death or divorce.

Federal student loans are discharged upon the death of the borrower. About half of private parent loans offer a similar death discharge.

Federal Parent PLUS loans are also discharged upon death of the student on whose behalf the loan was borrowed.

If a loan is not discharged upon death of the borrower, it will be charged against the borrower’s estate. The lender will then seek repayment of any remaining debt from the cosigner, if any.

If you cosigned the loan, ask the lender for a compassionate review. Lenders will sometimes cancel the debt upon death of the borrower, especially if the cosigner is financially incapable of repaying the debt or the borrower was a first responder or a veteran or member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

See also Who Is Responsible for a Student Loan in Case of Divorce?

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you