Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
mstone3
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:12 pm

Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by mstone3 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:50 pm

I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 8 months. I recently learned that she took out a massive amount of student loan debt (175k+) to pay for her graduate program. Her salary in a public school system is around 55k per year. I was a bit shocked to learn how much she took out in loans compared to her salary. She is betting heavily on using the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program to clear the loan debt after 10 years of service (she is careful to follow the proper repayment plans and submits the required paperwork to Dept of Ed each year), however we both know the PSLF program is not a guarantee.

I am very debt averse and have no debt at all. If things continue to go well with the relationship, there is the possibility of getting married, but I do worry about the significant debt load. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?

Goal33
Posts: 654
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:30 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Goal33 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:57 pm

It's a valid problem. I don't know details but make sure if you get married it's not based on your income... and if it is, maybe wait to get married?
A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

Saving$
Posts: 1623
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:33 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Saving$ » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:00 pm

How many years of service does she already have?
How are the current payments structured - is the debt decreasing, staying the same, or increasing?

Perkunas
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 7:24 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Perkunas » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:02 pm

mstone3 wrote:I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 8 months. I recently learned that she took out a massive amount of student loan debt (175k+) to pay for her graduate program. Her salary in a public school system is around 55k per year. I was a bit shocked to learn how much she took out in loans compared to her salary. She is betting heavily on using the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program to clear the loan debt after 10 years of service (she is careful to follow the proper repayment plans and submits the required paperwork to Dept of Ed each year), however we both know the PSLF program is not a guarantee.

I am very debt averse and have no debt at all. If things continue to go well with the relationship, there is the possibility of getting married, but I do worry about the significant debt load. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
How far into her worklife is she / how far from her debt being forgiven? Also, have you looked into the tax consequence if/when the debt is forgiven after 10 years? (I honestly can't remember if her type of debt is considered taxable income or not - so just an FYI to check into it if you haven't already).

Red flag? I'm not a relationship expert but a significant source of problems stems from money and money related issue, so it certainly valid to consider. Other things to consider are how much she spends / saves / her overall work ethic.

youngin87
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:25 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by youngin87 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:07 pm

I know PSLF debt forgiven is not taxable. I have $120,000 of student loan debt and have made 5 years payments so far.

TX_Man
Posts: 96
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:53 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by TX_Man » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:10 pm

It is a valid problem. Marriage is wished to be a lifelong commitment and finances is a major cause of divorce.

How many years is she into the loan forgiveness program? Does she have loose/frivilous spending habits (credit card debt, excessive car debt, etc) or does she plan her monthly in a decent manner (consistent savings, retirement account participation, etc).

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 5379
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳 Retired.

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:26 pm

My son is in a similar situation. Frugal and with well thought out finances vs his DW with massive student loans. Solution was to keep separate accounts, keep his DW income allotted towards her debt payments, and so forth. Compartmentalization has worked well.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18775
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by dm200 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:41 pm

mstone3 wrote:I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 8 months. I recently learned that she took out a massive amount of student loan debt (175k+) to pay for her graduate program. Her salary in a public school system is around 55k per year. I was a bit shocked to learn how much she took out in loans compared to her salary. She is betting heavily on using the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program to clear the loan debt after 10 years of service (she is careful to follow the proper repayment plans and submits the required paperwork to Dept of Ed each year), however we both know the PSLF program is not a guarantee.
I am very debt averse and have no debt at all. If things continue to go well with the relationship, there is the possibility of getting married, but I do worry about the significant debt load. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
In my opinion, a "reasonable" issue.

1. What are the best case and worst case scenarios? "Worst case", for example, might be something like $XXX per month for the next YY years.

2. While this public school salary may seem low in relation to the debt, keep in mind that she probably has good benefits and an above average retirement situation.

3. If you marry (or not), you are not obligated for HER debt. It could affect jointly owned assets and could affect qualifying for a home mortgage.

4. In general, I would not have a big worry about this large debt. It could, though, affect the "relationship".

5. Do the math (#1) and I am guessing that it will be possible for her to pay back the entire amount. What happens if, for some reason, she is unable to make the full payments? What if she, for example, becomes disabled?

6. Very few potential spouses are "perfect". It is one thing, in my opinion, for someone to be generally financially irresponsible, and yet another to have a big debt. I suspect you could do a lot worse.

7. What are the chances that her annual salary will incrase over time - either in the same position or a position she would or could move into?

I suspect that there are some steps you (with full discussion/agreement) might be advised to do (or not do) to reasonably avoid your becoming liable for this debt. Maybe others here have some ideas/suggestions.

petulant
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:09 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by petulant » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:50 pm

Could you clarify why you think PSLF is not a guarantee?

User avatar
knpstr
Posts: 2160
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:57 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by knpstr » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:50 pm

mstone3 wrote:If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments.
If you get married, what is yours is hers and what is hers is yours.

You would no longer be debt-free, you would now have $175,000 in debt.

:beer
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

mstone3
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:12 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by mstone3 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:55 pm

Thanks all for the responses - just to add some more details...

She is about 7 years away from meeting the 10 year service obligation, so a long way to go.

Aside from the debt, she is extremely responsible financially - very frugal, very careful budgeting, not reckless in any way.

A good article regarding the potential threats to PSLF can be found at: http://bostonstudentloanlawyer.com/will ... liminated/

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 8028
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by cheese_breath » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:00 pm

I see a whole field of red flags. Even if you aren't actually committed to each other yet it's never too soon to begin tactfully bring up discussions about finances. If she expects her future hubby to pay, or even chip in on paying her debt you should know now before it gets more serious.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

rralex1
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:21 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by rralex1 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:15 pm

dm200 wrote:
mstone3 wrote:I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 8 months. I recently learned that she took out a massive amount of student loan debt (175k+) to pay for her graduate program. Her salary in a public school system is around 55k per year. I was a bit shocked to learn how much she took out in loans compared to her salary. She is betting heavily on using the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program to clear the loan debt after 10 years of service (she is careful to follow the proper repayment plans and submits the required paperwork to Dept of Ed each year), however we both know the PSLF program is not a guarantee.
I am very debt averse and have no debt at all. If things continue to go well with the relationship, there is the possibility of getting married, but I do worry about the significant debt load. How much of a red flag should this be? If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments. How much is this me being shallow vs. a valid problem?
In my opinion, a "reasonable" issue.
I agree. I have a family member who married a GF with considerable student loan debt. They are happy and together and have a tight budget and great goals. There were some very serious discussions though before they got there, and they will need to be aware and frugal for years but they are together and have a good plan.

In terms of red flags and awareness, my questions would be:
How recently after 8 mos in a relationship did you become aware of the debt? If it is recent, as you share you ask that question for a reason..

Other than the student loan debt, how responsible is your GF in terms of the rest of her financial situation, actions, and beliefs? if it's solid otherwise that is a very good indicator.

Speech pathologists with graduate degrees earn on average considerably more that what you list as your GF's current income. This generally explains loan debt v ROI and opportunities etc. There could be a lot of reasons - just a questions and observation.

If you marry, you personally will not be legally responsible for her debt as it was acquired before marriage. With that said, for me, I would be foolish to think that I were not responsible for my wife's debt.. I would find it hard to say what's mine is hers and what's hers is mine - as long as it's only the good stuff, so it could be a very big deal. That said, with a solid plan to address it together, it is what it is.

As written, what you are describing is increasingly common. Thinking it through as you are doing is healthy and intelligent.

petulant
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:09 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by petulant » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:22 pm

mstone3 wrote:Thanks all for the responses - just to add some more details...

She is about 7 years away from meeting the 10 year service obligation, so a long way to go.

Aside from the debt, she is extremely responsible financially - very frugal, very careful budgeting, not reckless in any way.

A good article regarding the potential threats to PSLF can be found at: http://bostonstudentloanlawyer.com/will ... liminated/
I'm sorry, but the article you quoted observed that 1) there is no threat to PSLF even close to being passed and that 2) even if there were one, it is extremely likely that past borrowers will not be affected. While this is clearly an issue to discuss in your relationship, you have given zero reason to think this is a serious risk.

delamer
Posts: 6286
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by delamer » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:28 pm

Good for you for thinking this through. Other posters have stated a variety of factors to consider, but you are the only one who can decide whether the debt is a dealbreaker for you. As someone else noted, do consider the worst-case scenarios and whether you could live with them.

corysold
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:58 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by corysold » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:32 pm

I think a bigger red flag would be having the big debt and adding more credit card debt, car payments, etc. on top of it. It doesn't sound like she is doing that and trying to responsible with what she has.

Not everyone can get through school without loans, so that part isn't unusual. The amount might be a bit high for her career, but she isn't the first with high student loans.

physiorol
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:52 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by physiorol » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:33 pm

mstone3 wrote:Aside from the debt, she is extremely responsible financially - very frugal, very careful budgeting, not reckless in any way.
I think this is the key. Racking up student loan debt should not be considered the same as CC debt from expensive dinners or outfits. If you anticipate that you and her will have similar approaches to spending going forwards then I would accept it and focus on other important aspects of compatibility eg fitness and physical activity levels, dietary habits, religious beliefs, approaches to parenting, desired living location etc.

Many 20 somethings with bachelor's degrees are faced with an undesirable career at 15-20 per hour, so they undertake expensive graduate education to open up professional jobs (she won't be the only one you run across). All other things equal, I would certainly prefer a partner with a history of full-time employment, completion of multiple degrees than a college drop-out with minimal debt and no plan for the future.

Also, as another poster mentioned, do not underestimate the potential payoff of a public servant pension.

Additionally, she could do some per diem home health or weekend inpatient speech therapy to increase her rate of paying off her loans.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 19342
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:42 pm

Which is better? GF who owns a house that has $175k in mortgage debt, the house is worth $25k in a recourse state, and it's 2008 all over again, massive foreclosures abound and you can't find a buyer anywhere. Or, GF has $175k in student loan debt, is employed and has a ton of Human Capital to offset the debt and more? You tell me, there are flags and then, there are real flags. Real flags, you things like verbally abusive, physically abusive, a spendthrift, physically and mentally ill, etc. This isn't a dating site, but when viewing a portfolio it pays to view it in totality and with an eye on long term total return. Good Luck!
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

User avatar
arcticpineapplecorp.
Posts: 3373
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:22 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:47 pm

Read some of this:

https://studentloanhero.com/featured/st ... -the-knot/

some important points to be aware of (you might already be). If you marry, sometimes filing jointly disallows the income based repayment programs (because of combined higher income). That would make her situation worse. Filing jointly could also increase the size of the payments required (dramatically). So many file married filing separately. But there are other problems (you can't consolidate or refinance loans jointly and if there are any private loans they could become your responsibility if your spouse dies...read the fine print.) I assume they're federal subsidized loans (not private) since she's in PSLF program, so that might not be an issue. Still, I see more problems than advantages in getting married and hopefully she would too. Why not wait 7 more years to get married until the loans are done with?

Good luck.
Last edited by arcticpineapplecorp. on Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Invest we must." -- Jack Bogle | “The purpose of investing is not to simply optimise returns and make yourself rich. The purpose is not to die poor.” -- William Bernstein

The Wizard
Posts: 12362
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by The Wizard » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:47 pm

knpstr wrote:
mstone3 wrote:If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments.
If you get married, what is yours is hers and what is hers is yours.

You would no longer be debt-free, you would now have $175,000 in debt.

:beer
Is this an authentic legal opinion?
Attempted new signature...

User avatar
knpstr
Posts: 2160
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:57 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by knpstr » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:01 pm

The Wizard wrote:Is this an authentic legal opinion?
It's an authentic married person's opinion.

I am no lawyer, but if you don't subscribe to that opinion, I highly suggest NOT getting married.

In a healthy marriage 2 become 1.

:beer
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

TA_Lurker
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:41 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by TA_Lurker » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:41 pm

Bettering yourself with a loan is not a sin. It's practically normal. If you judge her for having student debt know that you are penalizing this woman for the sin of being born to parents who were not rich.

Your girlfriend has dedicated her life to helping those born without a certain privilege. If you admire her compassion and generosity then perhaps you could return her that favor.

User avatar
alec
Posts: 2957
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:15 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by alec » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:48 pm

physiorol wrote:
Additionally, she could do some per diem home health or weekend inpatient speech therapy to increase her rate of paying off her loans.
Yup, several of the good speech therapists in my kids' school system do private after school sessions at local OT/ST places.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair

ray333
Posts: 177
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:47 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by ray333 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:50 pm

wait to get married. as long as possible.

gr7070
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:39 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by gr7070 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:29 pm

physiorol wrote:
mstone3 wrote:Aside from the debt, she is extremely responsible financially - very frugal, very careful budgeting, not reckless in any way.
I think this is the key.
Completely agree!

However, how did someone frugal and responsible take out $175,000 in loans for what should have been 1.5 years of grad school?!?

That screams not frugal and not responsible. Whatever answers there are to that i do doubt that frugal or responsible choices are involved. Choosing a very expensive school or a very HCOL area or both for grad school aren't frugal and with other better options out there probably not responsible either.

Regardless of all that if she is truly responsible and frugal I wouldn't worry about it other than this will be your debt in reality if a marriage is to last. Which is fine (the debt, the lasting would be great).

User avatar
oldzey
Posts: 1079
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:38 pm
Location: Land of Lincoln

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by oldzey » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:38 pm

ray333 wrote:wait to get married. as long as possible.
I've been waiting 49 years. :beer
"The broker said the stock was 'poised to move.' Silly me, I thought he meant up." ― Randy Thurman

User avatar
bostondan
Posts: 513
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by bostondan » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:43 pm

As a doctor, I see this all the time. Many of my colleagues with no debt married other doctors who had massive debt. Some with debt married others with debt, resulting in even larger debt (one close friend has ~$900k between them).

If this is the woman you plan to marry, once you actually get married you will need to accept the debt as your own and hold no grudges. I would avoid getting excessively tangled up in her finances until you are at least engaged.

I can see why this would cause you stress, but she is one of many with debt like this from student loans. She has not done anything unusual. It is not a red flag in the sense that I think you mean it. You are certainly allowed to not want to marry someone with a lot of debt, just as you are allowed to not want to marry someone for any reason that you want.

Personally, if I loved a woman enough to want to spend my life with her, the debt would be a minor issue. In fact, my wife had a lot of debt (more than your girlfriend) from law school and she took a job as an Assistant District Attorney making $40k. It didn't bother me. To each his own.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” - Elie Wiesel

User avatar
in_reality
Posts: 4529
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by in_reality » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:06 pm

TA_Lurker wrote: Your girlfriend has dedicated her life to helping those born without a certain privilege. If you admire her compassion and generosity then perhaps you could return her that favor.
+1,000,000

By the way, if you work overseas in a non-English speaking country, be sure to bring her with. There is an extreme shortage for expats with children who need therapy.

Outside school, there is a huge need for social skills training for those on the spectrum. Ask if she is familiar with PEERS (UCLA). There is what parents tell their kids to do, and what kids really do (ecologically valid), and kids who have no clue on social relations because their brains process too much information and they get lost in all the details and can't see the pattern of what to do, and a need for someone who can help.

If you have ever seen the suffering of a human being who is different than their peers in such a crucial area like communicative ability, you'd understand that your girlfriend has a set of priceless skills that many don't know how to value.

I assume her financial plan is the loan forgiveness. It doesn't strike me as irresponsible. To me she's worth at least a million bucks and we aren't even that close!!!

Zott
Posts: 229
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:21 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Zott » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:35 pm

I'm pretty conservative, and this situation would normally be uncomfortable for me. But based upon what you've said, it looks promising if you budget her loan payments out of her income and live somewhat frugally until the loan is forgiven, which is not all that far off in the scheme of things (7 years you said). Down the road, your reward will be a spouse with a generous pension and possibly post-retirement health benefits, enabling you to retire earlier.

rgs92
Posts: 2239
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by rgs92 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:08 pm

$175K is a very small price to pay if she is a good woman. Love is worth way more than that.
If she treats you well and makes you happy, that is priceless.
Be sure to reciprocate. (The love you take...)

Nowizard
Posts: 1596
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Nowizard » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:32 pm

A son dated a woman with even larger student loans. She did not mention them until they became quite serious. After much discussion with her about both the debt and not mentioning it, they ended the relationship. Harsh, possibly, but the individual must know himself. Creation of the debt for a language pathologist was not a good financial decision. Whether it was out of ignorance at the time or a red flag regarding what might be expected in the long term is an individual decision.

Tim

Bfwolf
Posts: 1809
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:18 am

Let me start off by saying I am definitely not a relationship expert!

But I think the general consensus on the thread is about right. Yes, it's perfectly reasonable for this to be a valid concern to you, and it doesn't make you shallow. $175,000 is an awful lot of money. I forced myself to consider how I would feel marrying somebody with that much debt (and I'm assuming not a lot of assets) and a modest income, and it gave me an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. And that was just a mind simulation--I can only imagine how you feel.

The PSFL is a big deal here for 2 reasons:

1) It has the possibility to eliminate the debt.

2) Assuming she knew about the PSFL when she took out the $175,000 loan, it suggests she is not reckless with big financial decisions but had a plan all along, albeit one with some risk.

I think you have to reconcile in your mind how likely you think her not getting the loan forgiven is, and whether you can live with that risk. If you think it's 90% likely she'll get the loan forgiven, then I don't think most people would let this loan interfere with the relationship. If you think it's 50/50, then perhaps it's worth giving it some real thought.

But in the end, I don't think you should think of this as a real red flag. She seemed to have a plan when she took out the loan and she behaves responsibly with money in all other respects. It's a yellow flag, and if you feel pretty confident in the PSFL, a pretty small yellow flag at that. As someone earlier in this thread said, nobody is perfect.

denovo
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by denovo » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:17 am

Does she come from a wealthy family?
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8498
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by celia » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:33 am

Assume the worst case happens financially. Would you still love her enough to work on that debt together?

If not, it is only fair to let her know so she can go find someone who will love her regardless.

Besides, it's not like each of you are bringing that amount of debt into the relationship.

User avatar
F150HD
Posts: 1645
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by F150HD » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:27 am

mstone3 wrote:I've been dating a wonderful speech-language pathologist for about 8 months. I recently learned that she took out a massive amount of student loan debt (175k+) to pay for her graduate program. Her salary in a public school system is around 55k per year. I was a bit shocked to learn how much she took out in loans compared to her salary. She is betting heavily on using the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program to clear the loan debt after 10 years of service (she is careful to follow the proper repayment plans and submits the required paperwork to Dept of Ed each year), however we both know the PSLF program is not a guarantee.
$175k, yikes

when she was taking out the loans (and long prior to her graduation) had she already pre-planned to use this program to pay them back once she was finished w/ her schooling?

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3459
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:50 am
Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:50 am

knpstr wrote:
mstone3 wrote:If the PSLF program were to fail, it seems paying back the debt would be insurmountable on her income alone, presumably leaving me to absorb the payments.
If you get married, what is yours is hers and what is hers is yours.

You would no longer be debt-free, you would now have $175,000 in debt.

:beer
+1. My DW went through a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree at the local university, for which we took out quite a bit of student loans. At that time I was working but she wasn't. We shared a Datsun B210, ate a lot of cheap food, and paid the debt off. I never ever considered them as "her" debt, it was "our" debt. The financing on the car she now drives was likewise never "her" debt, it was "our" debt. If you're not ready to accept that, you're not ready to get married.

If you decide you do want to marry this girl, ask yourself why. Better that you have this firmly in mind before taking the leap. And if you decide that the money is really an issue with you, sit down and discuss it with her.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

David Scubadiver
Posts: 522
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:40 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by David Scubadiver » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:53 am

If you are depending on your wife's earnings to support your family, that is a definite red flag.

If you are worrie about her expenses, ask yourself, how often is she going to take on student loan debt after the marriage? Probably not red flag.

Finally, dump her now. She is not the woman for you. You are going so far as to ask strangers hoping to get he answer you want, about the future of your relationship. It has no future. If you marry her it will cost you time and money.

Wait until you find a partner that makes you want to marry her without seeking advice from the internet.

harvestbook
Posts: 493
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:12 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by harvestbook » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:06 am

rgs92 wrote:$175K is a very small price to pay if she is a good woman.
I began dating my wife when she was still in grad school. She had no loans but more than $30K in credit card debt. I am very debt averse but I sat down with her and did the math, encouraged her to get a lower-cost student loan to pay off the credit cards, and when we were married we paid off the student loan in a lump sum and then paid off the house over a couple of years, working together. She went from having terrible money habits (her family was super wealthy but lost it all when she was fourteen when her dad refused to sell out their 100-store retail chain to Walmart) to being pretty much a Boglehead in the course of 10 years. She only needed some guidance, experience, and confidence in money management. This was the best investment of my life.

If you work together to address the problem, it can actually strengthen the relationship, not destroy it. Good luck.
I'm not smart enough to know, and I can't afford to guess.

User avatar
bostondan
Posts: 513
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by bostondan » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:19 am

David Scubadiver wrote:Finally, dump her now.
I would take this with a grain of salt. Do not take advice from an anonymous internet forum to "dump someone now."

Perhaps mstone3 just has anxiety over money, or relationships, or whatever, and he trusts the Bogleheads community. We can argue over whether that is smart for something like this, but it may be the case.

He used the adjective "wonderful" to describe her. Perhaps he does love her as much as he can expect to love anybody and his money anxieties are just overcoming him. In that case one could make the argument that this is a red flag for her, not for him. I think it is neither.

Only he can know his true feelings, and only time can tell us what the right choice was for him.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” - Elie Wiesel

User avatar
in_reality
Posts: 4529
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by in_reality » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:22 am

harvestbook wrote:
rgs92 wrote:$175K is a very small price to pay if she is a good woman.
I began dating my wife when she was still in grad school. She had no loans but more than $30K in credit card debt. I am very debt averse but I sat down with her and did the math, encouraged her to get a lower-cost student loan to pay off the credit cards, and when we were married we paid off the student loan in a lump sum and then paid off the house over a couple of years, working together. She went from having terrible money habits (her family was super wealthy but lost it all when she was fourteen when her dad refused to sell out their 100-store retail chain to Walmart) to being pretty much a Boglehead in the course of 10 years. She only needed some guidance, experience, and confidence in money management. This was the best investment of my life.

If you work together to address the problem, it can actually strengthen the relationship, not destroy it. Good luck.
Great story! I am glad it worked out! Working through it together gives you that sense of being able to well... work through things together!!! Priceless!!!!

User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5955
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by market timer » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:24 am

I expect PSLF will be around in 7 years and forgiving hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. If she stays single, she'll have no trouble financially. If she gets married, it's possible her husband's income will be considered to determine forgiveness eligibility or repayment amount. The safest option would be to wait until the loan is forgiven to get married.
Last edited by market timer on Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
midareff
Posts: 5808
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:43 am
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by midareff » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:24 am

As a wise man once explained to me .... if she becomes your wife and the mother of your children and you spend the rest of your life together it matters not at all. If you get married and help her pay off the debt .. which you may have to do before qualifying to buy a residence, and then she dumps you it may matter a lot.

Jags4186
Posts: 2551
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:37 am

It is an issue. How much of one is up to you. OP, I don't know how much money you make. If you make $300k/yr I would worry less about it than if you made $75k/yr.

If you said to me that she was on year 8 of 10 for PSLF I would say not really an issue, but with 8 years remaining, you are really (well I would feel) really stymied with basically a mortgage that will never go away. $175,000 in debt to make $55k/yr. Incredible.

OP here are some of the issues that I see with this:

PSFL is handcuffs. Your girlfriend makes $55k and will likely get 3% raises for the rest of her life as a public school employee. What happens in 2 years if she gets an offer for $85k somewhere? She won't be able to take it.

What happens when you want to have children and she decides she wants to be a SAHM (I recently went through this 'argument' with my wife)? Are you confident that she will continue to work through that? I'm guessing your girlfriend is around 28-30, she won't want to start having children at 36 or 38. Maybe you don't want kids though.

What happens if your girlfriend loses her job and is unable to replace it by the start of the next school year? (I really don't know...does PSLF need 10 years consecutively or is it just 10 years total?)

Not trying to be a debbie downer. I'm just saying that finances can breed serious resentment between a couple. Its very hard to live separate financial lives "what's mine is mine whats yours is yours" if you make significantly more than her and she's writing checks to the loan company every month. She'll have nothing. It's also seriously difficult to live combined lives if you feel all your money is going to pay her stuff.

My wife had $60k in student loans when we first met. Our first two years dating she lived with her parents and wrote $2500/mo checks to pay it off in 2 years. That told me she was a keeper.

petulant
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:09 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by petulant » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:59 am

Jags4186 wrote:It is an issue. How much of one is up to you. OP, I don't know how much money you make. If you make $300k/yr I would worry less about it than if you made $75k/yr.

If you said to me that she was on year 8 of 10 for PSLF I would say not really an issue, but with 8 years remaining, you are really (well I would feel) really stymied with basically a mortgage that will never go away. $175,000 in debt to make $55k/yr. Incredible.

OP here are some of the issues that I see with this:

PSFL is handcuffs. Your girlfriend makes $55k and will likely get 3% raises for the rest of her life as a public school employee. What happens in 2 years if she gets an offer for $85k somewhere? She won't be able to take it.

What happens when you want to have children and she decides she wants to be a SAHM (I recently went through this 'argument' with my wife)? Are you confident that she will continue to work through that? I'm guessing your girlfriend is around 28-30, she won't want to start having children at 36 or 38. Maybe you don't want kids though.

What happens if your girlfriend loses her job and is unable to replace it by the start of the next school year? (I really don't know...does PSLF need 10 years consecutively or is it just 10 years total?)

Not trying to be a debbie downer. I'm just saying that finances can breed serious resentment between a couple. Its very hard to live separate financial lives "what's mine is mine whats yours is yours" if you make significantly more than her and she's writing checks to the loan company every month. She'll have nothing. It's also seriously difficult to live combined lives if you feel all your money is going to pay her stuff.

My wife had $60k in student loans when we first met. Our first two years dating she lived with her parents and wrote $2500/mo checks to pay it off in 2 years. That told me she was a keeper.
We had another thread about PSLF recently. The woman decided to stay at home for a couple years to have kids and said that getting married affected her PSLF plans. I suggested that the issue wasn't getting married, it was having kids. And that's the biggest problem with PSLF. If OP and GF want that debt to go away, GF has to keep working at a relatively low-paying job--kids or no. Fortunately, maternity leave for a public school speech language pathologist should be generous.

tim1999
Posts: 3508
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by tim1999 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:10 am

If you get married, get a prenup that clearly states that the 175k debt is and always will be hers alone. If things go splitsville, you will thank me later.

junior
Posts: 761
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:14 pm
Contact:

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by junior » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:03 am

The Bogleheads are not exactly a representative sample size of humanity, and asking for relationship advice here might have a certain skew to the feedback... just saying.

Jags4186
Posts: 2551
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:08 am

junior wrote:The Bogleheads are not exactly a representative sample size of humanity, and asking for relationship advice here might have a certain skew to the feedback... just saying.
I disagree. Most of humanity doesn't have $175k in student loans. Again this isn't $50k in student loan debt which two earners could hunker down and pay off in a year or two and move on with their lives. This is someone who has student loans equal to 3.2x their annual earnings. Lots of things will be affected by this, assuming the OP is an average earner. Like I said above if the OP is making the big bucks this isn't that much of a concern. But if he is a average worker at an average company you're basically asking him to delay 8 years of his life--no house, no kids. OP needs to think about those things.

The time to be selfish is when you are not married. Once you are married you have made the decision to put the couple ahead of the individual.

BanditKing
Posts: 559
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:11 pm

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by BanditKing » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:08 am

Having just gone through a marriage with a similar circumstance, a few observations.

1) Why do you want to get married? If it's just because you're "supposed to", then that isn't really a good reason. There may be very good financial reasons to not be married as she may qualify for various loan assistance programs with a lower income. You can still merge expenses, perhaps allowing her to max out her 401k/403b.

2) A Pre-nup is pretty much required. We are very glad we got one as it made things much easier. You aren't betting on the marriage to fail, simply addressing the pre-marriage state of things so that you can return to something akin to that if need be. With the massive amount of debt attached to her, you must carve out that as a pre-marital liability, and that it cannot at all be assigned to you should the marriage end.

3) Can you do an opposite-sex domestic partnership? Some states allow that (I'm in WI, which does allow it), so that could be an option to merge your lives while still keeping some financial separation. We chose not to, but in retrospect I think it would have been a better approach.

4) You need to educate her about your BH ways, and make sure she buys into the idea and wants to live that life. If you both have different views of money, it WILL be a problem. This is especially true if you get married.

Please feel free to reach out to me in PM if you'd like to discuss more, especially if you want more info on the pre-nup.

Traveller
Posts: 703
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:47 am

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by Traveller » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:16 am

My approach would be:
1) not your problem until he day you get married
2) she should be doing whatever she needs to do to stay compliant with the program assuming it will be there in the future.
3) in the mean time she should be piling up as much extra cash as possible and never touch it until the 7 years is up. This money either becomes a windfall if the loans are forgiven, or cash to pay down or pay off whatever is left of the program is gone.
4) once married, you are dumping as much cash into that pile as possible as well.
5) both of you avoid more debt and lifestyle inflation.

Watching how she handles #3 and #5 will tell you a lot about her before you marry.

Good luck :beer

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18775
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Massive Student Loan Debt - Girlfriend

Post by dm200 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:28 am

One more thought/comment:

Without any bias or criticism on your part (if possible for you to do), what is her attitude about dealing with this large debt (beyond her hope to get it paid down/off) with the service credits?

Locked