Neither federal student loan debt nor private student loan debt automatically transfers to your spouse when you die. However, your spouse may be responsible for the debt if you live in a community property state and you took out loans during your marriage.
Federal student loan debt goes away when the borrower dies.
Private lenders typically check to see if the deceased borrower has an estate with assets. Generally, the lender will first try to collect from the estate to repay the student debt.
After that, if a balance remains, the lender will turn to the cosigner to keep making the monthly payments.
If there is no cosigner, the lender may turn to your spouse, but only if 2 things are true.
First, the spouse must live in a community property state:
Related: Are Student Loans Community Property?
Second, the borrower must have taken out the loans during the marriage. Your spouse usually isn’t liable for student loans you borrowed before you married.
If you cosigned or borrowed a private loan, consider sheltering your assets in a trust or getting an insurance policy beforehand to help pay for the loans after death.
Will my parents or spouse have to pay taxes on a discharged student loan? No, as of 2017, no one has to pay taxes on student loans discharged due to death.