Drowning in debt

Student Debt at an All-Time High

As college tuition rises exponentially, students are taking on more debt to earn a degree. The latest figures on student debt show it has shot up to $1.4 trillion. This is up twice the amount it was in 2009.

Now, young adults, who have earned graduate and post-graduate degrees, fear disclosing the amount of their student loan debt to their significant other. Millennials, who have taken on an enormous debt burden to earn a degree, are mired in debt shame.

Avoiding the Student Loan Debt Conversation

Although large debts are becoming increasingly common, they’re still negatively perceived. Nearly 40% of millennials would rather reveal they’ve previously contracted a STD than the amount of debt they have. The reasoning is this. Excessive student loan debt is likely to scare off a person contemplating a future together and all that entails: buying a home, having children, contributing to college and retirement funds, and having some disposable income left over. If a potential partner is in the hole to the tune of $10,000 to $100,000 and above, the romance grinds to a halt.

Debt vs STD

Image reference: SoFi

The Safer Choice: Lying

In the same survey, nearly 25% of survey respondents answered they would reconsider entering a union if a potential spouse’s debt burden exceeded $100,000.


Image reference: Bloomberg

The SoFi survey also questioned respondents about when they would decide to reveal their student loan debt. Almost 60% of respondents answered they’d procrastinate telling their partner about their student loan debt until after they’ve moved in together.

Stats also show in the SoFi survey almost 25% of respondents reported a date or partner had misled them on the amount of debt they’re in. Millennials also generally felt disclosing student loan debt wasn’t necessary until the relationship was headed in a serious direction. This generally meant starting to talk about living together or marriage.

Responding to the question of what amount of student loan debt would make a potential mate head for the hills, 38% answered it would depend, rather than give an exact figure at which they would bail from the relationship.

Life in the Real World, Student Debt, and Its Consequences

Stories abound of students, who fall deep into student loan debt and can’t find work in their chosen profession. Instead they end up on food stamps and toiling at a job for minimum wage. They are ridden with guilt and shame about how they became over-burdened with debt.

Either disclosing an STD or your debt cannot be taken literally. No one is eager to reveal such intimate details of their prior sex lives, but by the same token no one is quick to disclose what financial straits they are in, in fear of losing a committed relationship.

Debt shame and its consequences can have disastrous results. Some people with a tremendous amount of student loan debt become a shopping junkie. Spending money like a drunken sailor eases debt shame but at the same time exacerbates it. It’s a short-term fix with terrible long-term consequences

If you’re in a committed relationship, you must initiate the money conversation. Understanding each other fully, financial situation and all, is necessary to having an open, trusting relationship. And don’t forget that debt shame is a very real phenomenon that needs to be talked about. Only then can we help each other heal from it.

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