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So I polled some friends to see how they were managing things.
And while most of us graduated before the crazy post-recession tuition hikes, the answers still varied across the board: One person said they paid off student loans together, but kept the actual debt separate, while merging all other finances: In our household, while we have significant student loan debt, it’s not enough to feel like we’re drowning in it (at least in relation to our incomes), which makes us feel super lucky.
My uber responsible loan-paying self had a meltdown in a public place when I found this all out, but to his immense credit, he quietly sorted it all out, hustled the money up from somewhere, AND still paid for his half of the vacation. Student loan debt was something that happened for us before we even realized the extent of its ramifications.
We now have a ton of it, and no real clue when or if it will ever be paid off.
We haven’t had this impact us negatively in any real, big picture kind of way, but we’ve also never tried to buy a house or an expensive car.
Our student loan debt even kind of feels like pretend debt, the same way it felt like pretend money when we first received it.
College is expensive, we didn’t have the money to pay for it, and that means you get slapped with loans. But it wasn’t until I started talking with Meg about our respective years at NYU (currently one of the worst schools in the country in terms of both cost and student loan debt), that I was made aware of just how much the game had changed in the six short years between when she went to school and when I did. (Worse, the proportional scholarship numbers at four-year public schools actually got worse.) Which means you end up with student loan debt figures like this one from College Board: And granted, while NYU is one of the most expensive schools in the nation, it’s certainly a symptom of a much bigger problem.
My husband and I both have a big chunk of student loan debt and we pay our own loans separately.
We’ve discussed pooling our resources and aggressively attacking our student loans one at a time to pay them off faster, but we haven’t put anything in place to make that happen.
I would like to see us prioritize paying them off or paying them down significantly in the near future.
Today student loans are a non-issue in our marriage: we both have minimal monthly payments (thanks to early ’00s schooling) with low interest rates and neither of us prioritize paying them off sooner than we’re scheduled to. When we were very early into our dating days, I found out my partner hadn’t been paying his loans for around three years because he was making cash money, and like… Once he got a real job, the loan people found him and threatened to garnish his wages if he didn’t immediately pay 0—which was about as much as the vacation we were supposed to go on the very next day cost.
But on the flip side, should we have take responsibility for the financial decisions our partners made alone, before there was a partnership to consider?