My Husband Died and I Can’t Get Out of The Spousal Consolidation Loan


Hi Steve,

I have been attempting to get my joint consolidation loan split since my divorce in 2005.

At that time, I was told by my lender and servicer that it would be impossible to split the loans.

However, in 2015 my ex passed away and after submitting the death certificate, the Department of Education removed his portion of the loan. However, that still didn’t fix the whole problem.

They will not change the coding and claim it is impossible to do so, which still leaves my loan in a “Joint Consolidation Status” (even though it is not), and makes it impossible for me to consolidate.

I am a public school teacher, raising our daughter as an only parent and would qualify for the PSLF program if they would remove the false loan status. The only loans standing are mine since the government separated the consolidation and forgave his debt.

After reading your article on the topic, do you have any advice for where I could turn next?

I am aware that a bill to amend The Higher Education Act of 1965 would help me if it gets passed since I was a victim of domestic abuse and was represented by a Woman’s Place during the divorce in 2005. Under the bill, the Secretary of education would allow spousal consolidation loans to be split. Thanks for any info or help you may be able to provide.



Dear Natalie,

Let me set the correct expectation. You are not going to like the answer.

I’m assuming this was a Spousal Consolidation Loan. It was a horrible loan option that the Department of Education went on to later abandon. They have essentially trapped everyone that was told the Spousal Consolidation Loan was a good option.

The Department of Education is under the impression that the loans are neither eligible for consolidation or can be altered. The best description is the Department appears to have moved on and does not want to deal with these loans.

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When a joint applicant passes away on a Spousal Consolidation Loan the Department of Education says, “With a spousal consolidation, the portion of the loan attributable to the deceased spouse can be discharged. However, the surviving spouse remains liable for the remaining consolidation loan balance.”

And the lender that told you it was impossible to split the loans, was correct. The Department of Education says, “In the event that the spouses divorce, each spouse is still mutually responsible for repayment of the spousal consolidation loan.”

The only advice I can give you is to read this past post that has links to follow.

I wish I had better news but the links will give you some hope to push to consolidate the loan into a loan that qualified for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But as of now, the Department of Education says that is not possible and none of the loan payments you’ve made to date would qualify towards forgiveness.

The situation is not going to change until someone gets a lawyer involved to fight the Department of Education that their informal policy should not prevent someone like yourself from consolidating into a new Direct Loan.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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