I have a question regarding student loan debt forgiveness.

My wife has $50,000 in student loan debt. However, she is now a stay at home mother and earns zero income. We pay $340/month and it is only paying off the interest! The principal essentially remaining stagnant.

The company that services her student loan mentioned that if were to file married but separately that she would claim zero income and this would then adjust her student loan payment to $0/month. If we did this for 10 yrs the debt would eventually be forgiven.

Is this correct?

I make $100k/yr so that is our income. How would our taxes change if we filed separately? We have 3 children if that helps to figure it out.


  • Was your wife's loan taken out before or after July 1, 2014?
    – Ben Miller
    Dec 16, 2017 at 4:47
  • Before. The majority is from grad school in 2008-2009
    – Dflaher
    Dec 16, 2017 at 4:50
  • 1
    Which type of student loan is it?
    – Ben Miller
    Dec 16, 2017 at 4:55
  • Is this a private student loan? Federally-backed student loans in the US have no forgiveness policy based on income that I am aware of. You can defer payments but not get them forgiven.
    – D Stanley
    Dec 16, 2017 at 22:16
  • What would MFS do to your overall tax burden?
    – RonJohn
    Dec 18, 2017 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


According to this, yes, it is a possibility:

A simple way to potentially lower your student loan payment and increase your potential student loan forgiveness is to lower your AGI - and married couples can potentially do this by filing separately versus jointly.

This website also seems to support that statement:

In many cases, borrowers in the Income Based Repayment Program actually “pay” zero Dollars if their discretionary income isn’t high enough to meet the minimum amount.

However, you should not base your financial plans off of what two websites say. It would be in your best interest to get what the loan servicing company told you over the phone in writing somewhere. It would also behoove you to consult with an attorney or accountant specializing in student loan debt - as defaulting on student loans is a very big issue and it is very difficult to get them discharged through bankruptcy court.

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