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Can Being a Cosigner Affect Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

Can Being a Cosigner Affect Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

by

JG Wentworth

January 31, 2024

7 min

Cosigning and debt to income ratios

When considering financial responsibilities, being a cosigner is a significant commitment. It entails vouching for someone else’s creditworthiness and agreeing to cover their payments if they falter. One pressing question for cosigners is how this role affects their own financial situation, specifically when it comes to their debt-to-income ratio (DTI).  

Let’s explore the intricacies of DTI, the implications of cosigning on loans, and the potential financial impact for those who choose to stand as guarantors… 

When considering financial responsibilities, being a cosigner is a significant commitment. It entails vouching for someone else’s creditworthiness and agreeing to cover their payments if they falter. One pressing question for cosigners is how this role affects their own financial situation, specifically when it comes to their debt-to-income ratio (DTI). 

Let’s explore the intricacies of DTI, the implications of cosigning on loans, and the potential financial impact for those who choose to stand as guarantors… 

Understanding Debt-to-Income Ratio 

The debt-to-income ratio is a fundamental metric that lenders use to assess an individual’s financial health. It’s a simple calculation, expressed as a percentage, comparing the amount of debt an individual carries to their gross income. The formula for calculating DTI is: 

DTI = (Total Monthly Debt Payments / Gross Monthly Income) ×100 

This ratio provides a snapshot of an individual’s ability to manage their existing debts in relation to their income. Lenders use DTI as a deciding factor when evaluating loan applications, as it helps them gauge the borrower’s capacity to take on additional debt responsibly. 

Cosigning and Its Implications

 When an individual cosigns a loan, they are essentially guaranteeing the repayment of the loan if the primary borrower defaults. This act of financial endorsement comes with both moral and financial obligations, as cosigners share equal responsibility for the loan. This means that the debt is reflected on their credit reports, and any missed payments or defaults impact their own credit history as well. 

Additionally, debt resulting from a cosigned loan is factored into the cosigner’s DTI calculations. In other words, the total monthly debt payments, including the cosigned loan, are considered when assessing the cosigner’s financial health. As the cosigned debt is included in their DTI calculation, it affects the cosigner’s ability to take on additional debt. Lenders consider this when evaluating the cosigner’s eligibility for new loans or credit – potentially limiting the amount of additional credit they are willing to extend.  

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Mitigating Risks

As with any financial decisions, great care and attention should be given to cosigning a loan.  The following are a few examples of how a cosigner can mitigate the risks involved with entering this type of arrangement so that it doesn’t negatively affect their DTI…  

Monitoring the Cosigned Loan:  

The best way for cosigners to ensure that their generosity doesn’t come back to bite them is to vigilantly monitor the payments on the cosigned loan. Establishing clear communication with the primary borrower is crucial. Cosigners need to stay informed about the status of the loan, ensuring that payments are made on time to avoid any adverse effects on their own financial standing.

Regular Credit/DTI Monitoring:  

In addition to monitoring the loan, cosigners should engage in regular credit monitoring to stay informed about any changes to their credit report. Likewise, periodically assessing their DTI is crucial for cosigners. This allows them to proactively manage their financial health and address any concerns arising from changes in debt obligations. 

Providing Financial Assistance:  

Instead of cosigning, individuals may consider providing financial assistance directly. This could involve lending money or helping the borrower improve their creditworthiness independently, without the risk of their DTI being impacted.

Exploring Joint Applications:  

If applicable, exploring joint applications where both parties are equally responsible for the debt might be a viable alternative. This differs from cosigning, as both applicants share the primary responsibility for the debt. 

Agreements: 

When cosigning is unavoidable, clear agreements should be established between the cosigner and the primary borrower. These agreements may include provisions for prompt communication about any financial difficulties and a plan of action in case of financial hardship. 

Setting Limits:  

Cosigners may choose to set limits on the amount they are willing to cosign for, preventing overcommitment and reducing the potential impact on their DTI ratio. 

Balancing Support and Financial Health 

Being a cosigner is a generous act of financial support that comes with some inherent risks. The impact on the cosigner’s debt-to-income ratio underscores the need for careful consideration and proactive financial management. While cosigning may restrict borrowing capacity and increase financial obligations, vigilant monitoring, and clear agreements can help strike a balance between supporting a friend or family member in need and protecting one’s own financial interests.  

If you, or someone you know, needs a cosigner due to bad credit or mounting debt, consider contacting JG Wentworth today to explore alternatives within our Debt Relief Program. Implementing a debt resolution strategy may eventually eliminate the need for a cosigner altogether.  

The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Such information or materials do not constitute and are not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied on in that respect. We suggest that You consult an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions.

Sources Cited

Murphy, C., “Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio: What’s Good and How To Calculate It.” Investopedia. August 21, 2023.  

Rivera, H., “Cosigner rights: How cosigning works.” Bankrate. April 5, 2023.  

Johnson, H., “What is a joint loan?” Consumer Affairs. August 24, 2023. 

Wright. S., “The Best Ways To Monitor Your Credit Score & Credit Report.” Upgraded Points. December 15, 2023. 

Treece, K. & Tarver, J., “What You Need To Know As A Co-Signer.” Forbes. March 23, 2021

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