Student Debt and Relationships
Marriage should be an exciting time for newlyweds, full of love and growth as a couple. But when you enter into a marriage with student debt, you could be setting yourself up for not only financial instability, but more stress than you might be able to handle at times.
Before tying the knot, it’s important to consider whether or not repaying student debt would be the best option prior to the wedding.
The Truth About Debt’s Impact
The impact student debt has on marriage is significant and not something to ignore. Statistics have shown that money and finances are the leading cause of divorce in the U.S., with student debt playing a major role in that. One study even showed that as little debt as $10,000 decreased the likelihood of marriage by three to four percent.
One of the biggest issues relating to student debt is who pays for it. When you get married, you naturally want to combine everything — bank accounts, credit cards, bills and loans. If these aspects of the relationship aren’t dealt with, you might be stuck helping to pay for the debt of your spouse even if you’re not the one in debt. This can cause serious troubles between married couples.
In fact, a survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling concluded that 54 percent of people weren’t willing to help a spouse pay off their debt. 44 percent also said they would either end the relationship or push off the wedding until the spouse paid off their debt. Leslie Tayne, managing partner at Tayne Law Group, said that talking about student debt between couples is “not the most romantic” thing, but potentially crucial to saving a marriage.
“So much stress is caused by spouses not being on same page financially,” she said.
Watch Out At Tax Time
Getting married can also affect payments for student loans, particularly if you’re on an income-based repayment plan. If your taxes are filed jointly, this means that yours and your spouse’s income is combined — leading to your repayment bill skyrocketing.
Also, reporting joint income lessens your chance of receiving certain income-based plans — which means you may want to consider keeping your student loan bills separate and filing independently. Though marriage can be good for taxes in that it can lower your bill every year, it can also be a detriment in that you’ll likely end up paying more on it because of both incomes combined.
Beat The Statistics
Though many say statistics don’t lie, it truly depends on the situation. There are ways to rise above these figures and make your marriage work despite the debt. Perhaps the best way to do this is to be transparent and upfront about your financial situation. Be respectful of the other person’s situation and try to be understanding. It’d then be wise to organize the debt and figure out a plan to pay it down together.
There are many payment options available including deference and forbearance, and you can also refinance your loan at a lower interest rate which will reduce the monthly payment amount to something potentially more manageable.
Although the numbers are pretty bleak, marriage doesn’t necessarily have to wait for couples carrying around student debt. No matter what decision you make, always talk it over and weigh your options, do some math and figure out just what it would take to get rid of student debt before going married. With a number of options for repayment available, marriages no longer have to get messy just because of money owed for education.