When you’re 18 years old and just starting college, it may seem like a good idea to take out a student loan to finance your education. Most borrowers convince themselves that paying back the debt once they start earning after college will be a piece of cake, but the reality can be quite different.
A recent study shows that student loan debt can impact a borrower’s life in several ways, including their chances of staying happily married.
Rising Student Loan Debt
According to a study by Student Loan Hero, student loan debt causes one in eight (or 13 per cent) divorces in America. The problem is on the verge of becoming a full-blown crisis as the current student debt across the United States stands at $1.5 trillion.
David Michael Cantor from the Cantor Law Group says that student loan isn’t anything like mortgage on a home that you can at least live in and enjoy. Instead, it is something that you did years ago and it makes absolutely no sense for your spouse to bear the burden of paying it back.
Government data shows that the amount of loan balance an average American has accumulated has grown over 62 per cent over the past 10 years to $34,144 today. If two partners in a marriage have unequal loan amounts, it can cause unnecessary strain in the relationship, making one of them question why they have to pay more money to pay back the other one’s debt. Cantor says that the stress becomes bigger with time as responsibilities grow and arguments start over money-related issues.
Cantor says that the situation can be avoided through effective communication between couples before they get married. It is important to know how much debt each party has before tying the knot.
If you feel uncomfortable with your partner’s debt or don’t want to bear the responsibility of paying it back, clear it out in a prenuptial agreement with a condition that states that in case the marriage doesn’t work out, you’re entitled to your half of the payments you made to pay back their student loan.
Effect of Financial Stress on Marriage
Cantor says that financial stress is the culprit behind one-third of failed marriages in United States, and since the total student loan debt has climbed up over the past few years, its financial impact is bound to reverberate in married couples’ personal lives.
On the flipside, student loans – when paid back in a timely manner – can boost your credit score and help you get bigger loans in the future such as mortgage or car loan with better interest rates. However, when calculating your ability to pay back the loan, lenders will often look at your debt-to-income ratio.
If half of your earnings are going into paying back the college debt, it’ll be much harder to get approved for a second loan. In this case, you might have to postpone your plans of buying a house or a new car until you’ve paid back your student loan in full.
Marriage on Downward Trend
Current statistics show the marriages are in a downward trend as the societal expectations from couples to tie the knot have been decreasing with time. Relationship expert Chris Sherwood says that a decade ago, most people simply got married because their family and friends expected them to. But these societal pressures don’t exist today and people are celebrating freedom to exercise personal choice in how they form and manage their relationships.
Another big reason why people aren’t rushing into marriage is because they’re prioritizing other things like traveling, education, starting a business or buying a house. But if you’re about to tie the knot anytime in the near future, listen to the advice of experts who have dealt with a number of divorces in their career.
Of course, it is beautiful to be in love and show your partner that you completely trust them but Cantor cautions couples to enter marriage with eyes wide open and communicate all financial terms in the form a prenuptial agreement so that no one feels like they’re being treated unfairly. Going into marriage with a logical mindset will save both parties a world of pain down the road.