My partner and I are trying our best to plan for the future and figure out how we will manage our finances in the coming years. They are currently about to begin their graduate studies for their field and will as a result be taking on a significant amount of student debt along with it. I am done with my studies and have had a software engineering job for about 6-months now, and it seems to be a stable position, making a decent amount of money.
As of right now, I have paid for rent, utilities and most all expenses that we have had for a little over 3 months since they have moved in to an apartment with me. This arrangement is fine to me, since I know that once their studies are complete they will contribute equally without question, and I am okay with investing this money into essentially funding their room and board for their education.
We are not married, but plan to be soon. This however raises an interesting question when we consider student loans. Whether we are married or not, the loans are going to be taken in my partner's name, not my own. I also am aware that once we are married, these loans in my partner's name, essentially become loans in our name. This is fine, but I want to help them with their loan payments as soon as I can.
I have seen in many places to never ever pay for your partner's debts unless you are married because you never know what will happen and it could bite you in the bum. Please assume in this example that there is no risk in this relationship, and that our marriage is inevitable, the question is only of when. (yes this is an unreasonable assumption but it's for the scope of the problem)
Here are my questions:
What makes the most sense in terms of efficiency of eliminating debt as well as keeping our finances understandable?
To pay the student loans off as quickly as we can, meaning that I pay as much as I can towards them while my partner is in school and not able to pay themselves? (presumably best for debt elimination efficiency)
To wait until after my partner is graduated to pay off these loans, so that we can both contribute to them after they have a job in their field? (presumably easier to track financially for equal payment, budgeting etc. Neither of us are super financially fluent)
Would this have tax complications for us, since they would not have income, and yet be paying on loans and tuition with this money from me and my job?
And: Does getting married solve this tax issue, if one exists?