Girlfriend's Student Loans

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MilkMoney99
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Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by MilkMoney99 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am

I'm 32 years old, debt free and earn a decent income. My girlfriend and I were both previously engaged, so early into our relationship we talked about a number of serious topics such as marriage, kids, and finances. I was a little shocked when I found out that she had taken out over 100k in student loans in order obtain a teaching degree. Being a newly minted teacher, the minimum payments on these loans represent nearly 50% of her take home pay. While this obviously wasn't the best decision, I don't find her to otherwise be financially irresponsible, so this is in no way a deal breaker for me. I'm struggling with deciding on what I can do to resolve this. I would never pay on a loan for someone that I'm not married to, but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day? I spent my 20s making financial decisions that would set me up comfortably in my 30's, but I didn't account for eliminating 100k in debt while trying to start a family. At this point marriage would be on the horizon in 1-2 years. Thoughts?

Update:

1) How old is your gf?

My girlfriend is 28 years old. She changed directions mid way through college so the entire degree took longer and cost more than it should have. She's aware that her approach was poor, but like others have mentioned, not everyone has our same level of financial wherewithal or someone in their life to provide it.

2) How much does she make?

She currently works in a title 1 public school and earns 55k. We've looked into loan forgiveness, but unfortunately the majority of the loans are private. Unless I'm overlooking something, only the smallest loan, about 24k, can be forgiven after 10 years. 10 years of payments and interest would exceed the current loan balance.

3) What is the interest rate and duration of her loan?

Since we are still dating I don't have all of the details. I do know that one of the larger ones is 8%.
Last edited by MilkMoney99 on Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

PFInterest
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by PFInterest » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:54 am

is she doing a loan forgiveness program? i dont see how its at 50% of her pay otherwise...
if you marry her, then youll have to decide what to do.

corysold
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by corysold » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:12 am

As crazy as it sounds, it might be worth it for her to go back to school. Does her district have a salary structure where additional degrees equate to higher pay? In my wife's district, two masters degrees equals almost double what a teacher with only a bachelor's earns. Some districts pay for these additional degrees as well. The faster she gets into that highest bracket, the more she'll earn over her career. Is that an option for her?

sterlingcooper05
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by sterlingcooper05 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:15 am

Be completely clear with your girlfriend about your concerns and intentions. While the debt itself is not a deal breaker, how she feels about the debt repayment could be a deal breaker. Do you currently support her as she pays half her income on the loan? If so, you're effectively paying the debt now. 100K is doable with 2 incomes and 2 buy ins. Without her commitment, letting you handle it, etc.....it could go south.

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Toons
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Toons » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:16 am

"but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day "
Yes it would be unreasonable.
Please Allow Her to "Tackle" It.
It will be an education for her.
Discipline,Money Management,Emotional Strength and Growth.
You will be doing her a favor,
She just doesn't know it yet.
:mrgreen: :mrgreen:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

Momus
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Momus » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:19 am

Many teachers make decent money around 100k/yr in metro CA, with great benefits. I don't think 100k loan is a lot anyway.

sjt
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by sjt » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:36 am

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
.... she had taken out over 100k in student loans in order obtain a teaching degree......I don't find her to otherwise be financially irresponsible, so this is in no way a deal breaker for me. I'm struggling with deciding on what I can do to resolve this....
Make a plan and understand what it would look like to pay them off. Can you still meet your other life goals? Are you both willing to sacrifice to aggressively pay down the debt? Seems like as long as you're on the same page you can move forward.

How are you going to manage income and expenses moving forward? Are you each going to pay 50% of 'joint' expenses like rent or mortgage from your separate bank accounts? Or are you simply going to pool all your money each month as "family" money and make decisions together? Depending on this answer, it could drive a wedge
"The one who covets is the poorer man, | For he would have that which he never can; | But he who doesn't have and doesn't crave | Is rich, though you may hold him but a knave." - Wife of Bath tale

MichCPA
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by MichCPA » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:31 pm

Toons wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:16 am
"but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day "
Yes it would be unreasonable.
Please Allow Her to "Tackle" It.
It will be an education for her.
Discipline,Money Management,Emotional Strength and Growth.
You will be doing her a favor,
She just doesn't know it yet.
:mrgreen: :mrgreen:
That would be an excellent way for the OP to demonstrate his level of commitment. /s

If she is responsible otherwise, it is entirely possible that she went to school at 18 and didn't totally understand what she was getting into. You could put that on her, but it is also a lesson for parents to let their kids know about the consequences of debt. Most people just won't intuitively understand that at 18, and many parents actively try to gloss over them.

If he is planning on getting married in 1 to 2 years, OP should probably start saving up for that too. That scenario puts an engagement and wedding planning even sooner. No reason to to let a wedding dig you an even deeper hole.


daheld
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by daheld » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:38 pm

I think it's perfectly reasonable. You're going to get a wide range of opinions around here, but mine is that when you're married, you should share finances. This includes income and expenses. You're marrying the entire package, good and bad. It is absolutely understandable that she didn't know what she was getting in to as an 18 year old kid, has student loan debt, and now knows better. Some folks, I'm assuming your girlfriend included, have zero prospect of going to college unless they take student loans. Over the long haul, that is a better financial proposition than not going to college and working a lower paying job.

I think it's understandable to save now in preparation for helping her pay off the loans. I agree you shouldn't help her until you're married. Most important advice I can give: COMMUNICATE. Be open with her about all of this. She should understand, as long as you're being reasonable, why you wouldn't help her pay now. Good luck.

MichCPA
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by MichCPA » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:49 pm

daheld wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:38 pm
I think it's perfectly reasonable. You're going to get a wide range of opinions around here, but mine is that when you're married, you should share finances. This includes income and expenses. You're marrying the entire package, good and bad. It is absolutely understandable that she didn't know what she was getting in to as an 18 year old kid, has student loan debt, and now knows better. Some folks, I'm assuming your girlfriend included, have zero prospect of going to college unless they take student loans. Over the long haul, that is a better financial proposition than not going to college and working a lower paying job.

I think it's understandable to save now in preparation for helping her pay off the loans. I agree you shouldn't help her until you're married. Most important advice I can give: COMMUNICATE. Be open with her about all of this. She should understand, as long as you're being reasonable, why you wouldn't help her pay now. Good luck.
+1 Well reasoned take.

I think it is difficult for some on this forum to relate due to either affluence or age. To emphasize the point, about 30 years ago the average person could work a part time minimum wage job and cover school. That has changed.

https://www.marketwatch.com/graphics/co ... -and-then/

rgs92
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by rgs92 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:58 pm

The student loans are a small price to pay for the unmatched job securty, generous pension, and wonderful health and other benefits (that continue after retirement) that a teaching career in the public schools gives you.
Be happy you have a wife with such a great career and enthusiastically pay the loans for her.
This is a win-win situation (and relationship it sounds).
All is well.
Look long term.
Last edited by rgs92 on Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ClemsonBogle
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by ClemsonBogle » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:00 pm

Whats the interest rate? When you get married your debts become hers period. Not really a way to separate them. I mean they "technically" are hers but you cant separate a relationship like that easily.

How long do you expect to "date" before marriage, before moving in?

20 year student loan at an aggregated at 6% for 20 years is a payment of 720 per month. If thats half her take home aka she makes about 35-40K?

Anyway, with my girlfriend, i allowed her to live with me and "free ride" off of my mortgage, utils, etc. As long as she was putting every penny towards her debt (she had about 1/3 of what your does 33K) but also had credit card debt to the tune of 10K.

She paid off hers in a little less than 2 years. Then we got her a safety net / emergency fund built.
Now she is going to start contributing to the household expenses. I know that fundamentally i was paying off her debt to some level but in this way i felt like i was making her do it.

She has been very frugal with her spending after exiting and is quite debt adverse now, just claims she thought everyone took out loans and didnt really think of what it would cost later.

lightfighter214
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by lightfighter214 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:30 pm

If she has 100k in student loan debt, chances are she didn't have a part time job in college. If she didn't have a part time job then, she should get one now. 100k screams bad money choices.

If she had a part time job, you have a huge spender on your hands. Whicnis it's own problem.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:41 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:58 pm
The student loans are a small price to pay for the unmatched job securty, generous pension, and wonderful health and other benefits (that continue after retirement) that a teaching career in the public schools gives you.
Be happy you have wife with such great career and enthusiastically pay the loans for her.
This is a win-win situation (and relationship it sounds).
All is well.
Look long term.
Good points ...

I assume her student loan payments will remain the same, while her income should go up each year as well.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:42 pm

While this obviously wasn't the best decision,
Depending on all the circumstances, it may have been a very good decision..

ahnathan
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by ahnathan » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:30 pm

There are and will be several fairly judgy opinions on this topic I’m sure. Thankfully not everyone on this board sprang from the womb with the wherewithal to start saving every dollar. Some of us took on debt and even managed it poorly for a time before we knew much better. To expect more from every young person is frankly a bit silly. I would certainly not consider it a “warning sign” that a young person took out a loan to go to school.

You seem to have the right thought process. I agree with several of the well reasoned opinions that while you should support her in whatever way you feel is appropriate (guidance, living expenses etc) you should not be paying off a 100k debt for a non-married significant other. I think for several reasons, one being that as much as you think you may know, you don’t know if you’ll be getting married in 1-2 years. Relationships can be as hard to predict as the stock market. The second is that I think for a non-married couple taking on that debt for her introduces a power dynamic that may be hard to manage, whether intended or otherwise. That is very personal though and certainly may not be the case with you.

I would focus on putting her on the right track, and otherwise just go with your gut on how to support her around the loan. 100k is very doable with discipline.

zotos
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by zotos » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:43 pm

I recently went through this - we just got married two weeks ago. We met in grad school (we're 31 now) - my parents paid for my tuition and I used savings for expenses and my wife left school with $160K in debt. That was two years ago - the debt is now at $130K.

I'll be honest, it scared me to think about her debt when we first started dating. It just seemed like so much money. I knew that if we got married I would help her, but until then I mostly let it be "her" debt. She paid her monthly payments and all her expenses.

But I felt the same way you did, I thought, why don't I help a little now? I went back and forth, but once were engaged, I ultimately decided to let her pay $300 less a month of her half of the rent payment with the agreement that she would put that $300 to her loans every month - so I basically started to chip in for her loans while we were engaged.

I don't know if I'd suggest this, though, because when she would spend money in ways I thought were frivolous, part of me felt a bit taken advantage of. But that's something I know that I personally deal with. Now that we're married, we decide on a budget, and as long as we stay within it, the agreement is I don't nit-pick her every purchase - especially since she works hard and makes good money.

So now that we're married, we've mostly combined finances and have doubled her monthly payments to $5,000 to pay the loan down faster. And we also put about 75% of our wedding money to her loans. I feel that we're in this together and now it's OUR debt. It'll be paid off in a short while and many many years from now we'll both forget we ever had it.

daheld
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by daheld » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:19 pm

MichCPA wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:49 pm
daheld wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:38 pm
I think it's perfectly reasonable. You're going to get a wide range of opinions around here, but mine is that when you're married, you should share finances. This includes income and expenses. You're marrying the entire package, good and bad. It is absolutely understandable that she didn't know what she was getting in to as an 18 year old kid, has student loan debt, and now knows better. Some folks, I'm assuming your girlfriend included, have zero prospect of going to college unless they take student loans. Over the long haul, that is a better financial proposition than not going to college and working a lower paying job.

I think it's understandable to save now in preparation for helping her pay off the loans. I agree you shouldn't help her until you're married. Most important advice I can give: COMMUNICATE. Be open with her about all of this. She should understand, as long as you're being reasonable, why you wouldn't help her pay now. Good luck.
+1 Well reasoned take.

I think it is difficult for some on this forum to relate due to either affluence or age. To emphasize the point, about 30 years ago the average person could work a part time minimum wage job and cover school. That has changed.

https://www.marketwatch.com/graphics/co ... -and-then/
Exactly. This place has been a fountain of information and I've benefited from it, but I think some folks around here don't really know how the majority of America lives. Where I'm from, public school teachers are the rich people. Seriously. And quite frankly, if OP's girlfriend was in a financial situation where student loans were the only viable option, that was $100,000 extraordinarily well spent. In my state, public school teachers retire with a pension that's 80% of their high-3 salary. That makes the initial investment very much worth it.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:23 pm

Exactly. This place has been a fountain of information and I've benefited from it, but I think some folks around here don't really know how the majority of America lives. Where I'm from, public school teachers are the rich people. Seriously. And quite frankly, if OP's girlfriend was in a financial situation where student loans were the only viable option, that was $100,000 extraordinarily well spent. In my state, public school teachers retire with a pension that's 80% of their high-3 salary. That makes the initial investment very much worth it.
Yes - there are great variances around the country in the compensation and retirement for public school teachers.

Twood
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Twood » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:25 pm

With regards to sending her back to school to get those guaranteed raises as a teacher, what are the odds she will want to work part time or not at all outside the home, if children enter your life? And despite the stance many take these days, not all children are planned, even in responsibile households, there are odds at work there too.

Mingus
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Mingus » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:41 pm

I wonder if the same sentiment would be on here regarding this topic if roles were reversed.

Male with 100k debt/low to moderate earning potential, and woman with no debt high income.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:47 pm

Twood wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:25 pm
With regards to sending her back to school to get those guaranteed raises as a teacher, what are the odds she will want to work part time or not at all outside the home, if children enter your life? And despite the stance many take these days, not all children are planned, even in responsibile households, there are odds at work there too.
Yes - today, that scenario has become much more common.

I have noticed an increasing frequency of higher earning women continuing employment - and the male partners/spouses caring for the children, etc.

A family member of mine is such a higher income woman and her husband is not currently employed and is the caretaker, etc. for their two small daughters.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by CedarWaxWing » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:56 pm

Thoughts? That's about as open ended as it gets...

So... if she went to a state school 100 k should have covered about 100% of her college expenses. If she went to a private school... she made some serious financially poor decisions, but that's in the past and she was young. By age 32ish...she should have paid it off by now however, so why did she not get that accomplished?

1. If you need a couple years to decide if marriage is right ... this is the time for her to get on the stick and pay things off as aggressively as possible.... and/or work on loan forgiveness and getting a lower rate.

2. IF you can easily pay this off (and your "good income" does not address that)... the loan, in the big picture, won't matter.

3. Assuming it does matter and your income is not enough to make that payoff easy or pain free.... give her two years to get things under control and to assess her ability to rise to the occasion. If she can live cheaply, she can pay it off over 2-5 years, or at least make enough progress to take the heat off. If you are ready to cohabit... take care of her rent and basics in your place and let her put her old rent, utilities, food, etc toward her loan in addition to her prior payments.

Good luck...

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Duckie
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Duckie » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:58 pm

CedarWaxWing wrote:By age 32ish...she should have paid it off by now however, so why did she not get that accomplished?
He's 32. We don't know how old she is. Being a "newly minted" teacher she could be as young as 22.

DarthSage
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by DarthSage » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:55 pm

I have a few questions:

How long has she been working? Has she made any kind of dent in the loans?
How did she manage to accrue this much debt for an undergrad degree (I thought there were limits?)
What proactive steps is she taking to pay down the debt as fast as reasonably possible--second job, beater car, etc.?

I have to say, my oldest is a teacher in a HCOL area. She has 2 part-time jobs in addition to her teaching job. She's working on her master's (employer pays half). She takes on a third job/ups her hours in the summer. She drives an old car and has 2 roommates. When she got a windfall, she promptly put 1/3 of it in a Roth (she also invests in a 403b at work). OTOH, her student loans are MUCH lower--she just had the basic loans (name escapes me at the moment), and didn't defer them.

I'm not trying to be critical--my DD also chose a pricey school, and hasn't made every perfect choice. My point is, though, that my DD owns her choices. She worked while in college, and works extra now to pay her bills.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:46 pm

One approach:

Since she seems like a generally responsible person, let her "manage" this (probably low interest rate) debt over time - paying just the minimum needed. Then, as well, concentrate on other financially responsible habits - such as an emergency fund, low/no other debt and making retirement payments.

Bfwolf
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Bfwolf » Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:54 pm

OP,

I think some of the responses on this board have brought to light more questions which I think you should answer to get good advice.

1) How old is your gf?

2) How much does she make?

3) What is the interest rate and duration of her loan?

Momus
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Momus » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:10 pm

Don't put a penny towards the loan. It's her debt alone until you are married. I know plenty of people break up after engagement. Bf put the gf thru dental school for 250k and gf traded up for a hotter and more acomplished man. It happened more often than you think. You can help her out to be more frugal and sort out the finances.

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dm200
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by dm200 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:17 pm

Momus wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:10 pm
Don't put a penny towards the loan. It's her debt alone until you are married. I know plenty of people break up after engagement. Bf put the gf thru dental school for 250k and gf traded up for a hotter and more acomplished man. It happened more often than you think. You can help her out to be more frugal and sort out the finances.
Wow ...

Happens in many such professions with high education costs and, potentially, high income.

I guess we now have more "gender equality" on such matters.

sergio
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by sergio » Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:01 pm

Tough situation, since she's probably somewhat suffocated by paying these loans and is probably paying a lot in interest. Every dollar that she puts towards interest on these loans is absolute "dead money" that could help you both save for a house down payment, 529s (so your kids don't end up in the same situation), and so on... which would benefit both of you if you do end up getting married. But you're not married yet, which kind of makes this a strange situtation.

I probably wouldn't contribute while bf/gf but if marriage was imminent (e.g. well into the engagement) I'd start helping pay the loans off. It really will benefit both of you going forward, both financially (if you do combine finances) and peace of mind as well. And TBH if you have a good income and she has a decent income, 100k probably won't be catastrophic over a 30-35 year career.

I don't understand those that sharply criticize the gf for her decision. Yes, maybe could've done slightly better if she went the 2 years community college + 2 years state school. She could've taken a minimum wage job to reduce her loans to maybe $75-80k before graduation, but these are somewhat minor things over the long run. At the end of the day, the $100k she took out went towards a degree with good earning potential, great benefits, and decent job security.

totallystudly
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by totallystudly » Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:50 pm

I wouldn't put a dime towards them. We are all adults. She made some bad decisions and needs to learn from them.

She may be eligible for student loan forgiveness anyway, so I would explore that first.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by StoopieHippo » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:18 pm

We were in a bit of a different situation... we graduated with a combined 330k in loans (nobody faint!) but we'd been together for 5 years by the time we started living together. When we decided to be good little Bogleheads and pay it off quickly and start focusing on retirement (full disclosure: we're still in pay down mode), we decided to live off one salary and basically throw the other salary into loans. We make good money (low 6 figs each) so we were easily able to do this easily. We're currently at 61k (down from 246k in Dec 2015), and we didn't get married until 2 years ago. Mind you...we also bought a condo together before we got married so...we both kinda knew this was it for the long haul...

DarthSage
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by DarthSage » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:19 pm

sergio wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:01 pm


I don't understand those that sharply criticize the gf for her decision. Yes, maybe could've done slightly better if she went the 2 years community college + 2 years state school. She could've taken a minimum wage job to reduce her loans to maybe $75-80k before graduation, but these are somewhat minor things over the long run. At the end of the day, the $100k she took out went towards a degree with good earning potential, great benefits, and decent job security.
Actually, she could have gone MUCH cheaper. A state school + working summers + part time job during school, she could have gotten through on much, much less than borrowing $100k. There are literally hundreds of colleges offering teaching degrees in this country. I know this because, as I said above, my DD JUST graduated with a teaching degree. We looked at a bunch of schools, and she applied to 6. Although she didn't base her decision on cost, there was a very wide range of costs available.

I also wouldn't consider teaching to be a lucrative career. Although my DD had no trouble finding permanent employment, it really depends on your specific area of expertise (she's bilingual ed.--in high demand). And she might argue the "good earning potential", too--she does okay, but since it's all union, it all depends on the negotiated contract. She can't, say, get a bonus for performance.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by sergio » Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:06 pm

DarthSage wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:19 pm
sergio wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:01 pm


I don't understand those that sharply criticize the gf for her decision. Yes, maybe could've done slightly better if she went the 2 years community college + 2 years state school. She could've taken a minimum wage job to reduce her loans to maybe $75-80k before graduation, but these are somewhat minor things over the long run. At the end of the day, the $100k she took out went towards a degree with good earning potential, great benefits, and decent job security.
Actually, she could have gone MUCH cheaper. A state school + working summers + part time job during school, she could have gotten through on much, much less than borrowing $100k. There are literally hundreds of colleges offering teaching degrees in this country. I know this because, as I said above, my DD JUST graduated with a teaching degree. We looked at a bunch of schools, and she applied to 6. Although she didn't base her decision on cost, there was a very wide range of costs available.

I also wouldn't consider teaching to be a lucrative career. Although my DD had no trouble finding permanent employment, it really depends on your specific area of expertise (she's bilingual ed.--in high demand). And she might argue the "good earning potential", too--she does okay, but since it's all union, it all depends on the negotiated contract. She can't, say, get a bonus for performance.
Yes I agree 100% but what's the point of belaboring what she could've done? She also could have taken out $150k to get a degree in Art History, or to drop out 3 years in, and so on. And it's great that "we looked at a bunch of schools" in your situation - I plan to do the same with my kids. But believe it or not there are 18-year olds out there with parents who completely suck at basic finance, who set their kids loose to deal with college funding on their own with no guidance whatsoever. I have an inkling that at least some of the "she blew it" crowd either had good parental guidance or funding during their own college days.

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Watty
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Watty » Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:10 pm

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
I would never pay on a loan for someone that I'm not married to, but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day?
I agree with not paying for her loans before you are married.

I would focus on building up your retirement savings, or other accounts, before you are married. The details are complicated and may vary by state but that would usually be considered premarital money in many states that you would still get if you get divorced after being married for a while.

It would be good to talk to a lawyer to get this set up right so a prenuptial agreement might be a good idea. This is a pretty common situation so the lawyer may have suggestions on how to set up the premarital agreement to handle the student loans in case the marriage does not last a long time.

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
At this point marriage would be on the horizon in 1-2 years. Thoughts?
Reading WAY in between the lines with that long a timeframe I would be concerned that you are also planning a large wedding. With the debt, wanting kids, and likely to buy a house together I would suggest having a very modest wedding.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by stan1 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:24 pm

zotos wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:43 pm
I recently went through this - we just got married two weeks ago. We met in grad school (we're 31 now) - my parents paid for my tuition and I used savings for expenses and my wife left school with $160K in debt. That was two years ago - the debt is now at $130K.

I'll be honest, it scared me to think about her debt when we first started dating. It just seemed like so much money. I knew that if we got married I would help her, but until then I mostly let it be "her" debt. She paid her monthly payments and all her expenses.

But I felt the same way you did, I thought, why don't I help a little now? I went back and forth, but once were engaged, I ultimately decided to let her pay $300 less a month of her half of the rent payment with the agreement that she would put that $300 to her loans every month - so I basically started to chip in for her loans while we were engaged.

I don't know if I'd suggest this, though, because when she would spend money in ways I thought were frivolous, part of me felt a bit taken advantage of. But that's something I know that I personally deal with. Now that we're married, we decide on a budget, and as long as we stay within it, the agreement is I don't nit-pick her every purchase - especially since she works hard and makes good money.

So now that we're married, we've mostly combined finances and have doubled her monthly payments to $5,000 to pay the loan down faster. And we also put about 75% of our wedding money to her loans. I feel that we're in this together and now it's OUR debt. It'll be paid off in a short while and many many years from now we'll both forget we ever had it.
Congratulations on the best post here (and on your marriage). I think you handled the situation perfectly. You didn't take on her loans right away but you helped lower her expenses and she showed that she was able to put more money towards the loans. Also you stuck with it even when she did a few things for herself (or you as a couple). And congratulations on now being able to put $5000 per month towards the loans. In less than two years you'll have this past you and be able to put most of that $60K/year into savings or things that are important to your family.

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Jazztonight
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Jazztonight » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:40 pm

I can't believe I'm saying this, because I hate debt--especially school-related debt. But $100k does not seem to me to be an excessive amount to have borrowed to go to college and get a teaching degree. What GF decides to do now and in the future is a more important matter.

Until and if they marry, GF's debt is not the responsibility of the OP. That said, if they're both serious, mature people, one scenario could be this:

GF moves in with OP who basically supports her while she aggressively pays down her debt over a couple of years, using every available method to reduce that debt, keeping living expenses very low, both living a frugal lifestyle. If this appeals to GF and they both sacrifice toward a debt free, Bogleheads lifestyle, and things progress nicely, then go get married and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

One final thought: If OP had said his GF's $100k debt was from credit cards and a spendthrift lifestyle, I'd tell him to run the other way. But that's not the case.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche

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William4u
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by William4u » Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:34 am

The average cost of tuition at a public school right now is about $10,000 a year. $15,000 a year is a pretty typical cost for room and board. So getting debt to the tune of $25,000 a year for 4 years to equal $100,000 is not out of the ordinary. It doesn't strike me as irresponsible to accrue this kind of debt to get a college degree. I wouldn't say this is a red flag. On the contrary, this kind of debt is completely normal for college graduates today. Of course I think college should be less expensive and better supported by state legislators, as had been the case in the past, but that is another story.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by DarthSage » Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:19 am

sergio wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:06 pm
DarthSage wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:19 pm
sergio wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:01 pm


I don't understand those that sharply criticize the gf for her decision. Yes, maybe could've done slightly better if she went the 2 years community college + 2 years state school. She could've taken a minimum wage job to reduce her loans to maybe $75-80k before graduation, but these are somewhat minor things over the long run. At the end of the day, the $100k she took out went towards a degree with good earning potential, great benefits, and decent job security.
Actually, she could have gone MUCH cheaper. A state school + working summers + part time job during school, she could have gotten through on much, much less than borrowing $100k. There are literally hundreds of colleges offering teaching degrees in this country. I know this because, as I said above, my DD JUST graduated with a teaching degree. We looked at a bunch of schools, and she applied to 6. Although she didn't base her decision on cost, there was a very wide range of costs available.

I also wouldn't consider teaching to be a lucrative career. Although my DD had no trouble finding permanent employment, it really depends on your specific area of expertise (she's bilingual ed.--in high demand). And she might argue the "good earning potential", too--she does okay, but since it's all union, it all depends on the negotiated contract. She can't, say, get a bonus for performance.
Yes I agree 100% but what's the point of belaboring what she could've done? She also could have taken out $150k to get a degree in Art History, or to drop out 3 years in, and so on. And it's great that "we looked at a bunch of schools" in your situation - I plan to do the same with my kids. But believe it or not there are 18-year olds out there with parents who completely suck at basic finance, who set their kids loose to deal with college funding on their own with no guidance whatsoever. I have an inkling that at least some of the "she blew it" crowd either had good parental guidance or funding during their own college days.
Believe me, I'm painfully aware of this--my own parents were zero help, either with money or advice. Luckily, I went to college in a time where the costs were more reasonable, but I STILL have money anxiety due to my upbringing.

Back to the OP--it matters less what got the GF to this point, than what she does about it now. To me, it's a red flag that she doesn't have a part-time job to help pay down her debts, but there may be unstated reasons why she doesn't do this. I think the OP should be as supportive as possible, but not so much financially--if he wants to let her live cheaply, fine, or even be the one to pay for splurges (dinners out, etc.)--again, fine. But he shouldn't be putting his money on her loans, for sure. I think he should be concentrating on beefing up his retirement funds. If they're in it for the long haul, she'll one day benefit from that. If not, well, he'll still benefit.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by ponyboy » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:06 am

Agree with others. $100k in student loan debt to be a teacher IS a good investment. Where I live in east bumble PA...teachers max at around $75k. Their retirement is sick. I believe once they retire they get around that much per year for life. Not including SS.

I guess OP can hold off on getting married if they're that concerned with money. Either way...judging by what OP said...I dont think things are going to end well in that relationship since money is the primary focus.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by ponyboy » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:09 am

Mingus wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:41 pm
I wonder if the same sentiment would be on here regarding this topic if roles were reversed.

Male with 100k debt/low to moderate earning potential, and woman with no debt high income.
You could always start a new thread and find out?

Nissanzx1
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Nissanzx1 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:20 am

I went through this situation when I got married. I brought it up during engagement to make sure she understood that we would not be wandering through life with $65K in student loans. It took us about 2.5 years to get it done. Like you, I was pretty responsible previously. I certainly didn't shame her about it, but she could easily tell I was dead serious.

We are happy now and debt free 3.5 years after our wedding day. It doesn't make life perfect, but it does give us peace.

You should make known your feelings. In her situation, a part-time job is probably called for. I would also start saving in your own account as soon as you are engaged. No reason to tell her about you saving up, as she needs to feel some of the weight here. Help her with a budget so what little income she has is being handled responsibly. Good luck, you two will be stronger in your marriage if you communicate on this and work on this goal together (after marriage).

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by JonnyDVM » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:31 am

Momus wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:19 am
Many teachers make decent money around 100k/yr in metro CA, with great benefits. I don't think 100k loan is a lot anyway.
This really rubbed me the wrong way. This attitude is exactly why we’re in the current mess we’re in with student loans. 100k is a lot. No kid should come out of school with a teaching degree and 100k in debt. It shouldn’t be possible to borrow that amount of money as a 20 year old.

Let’s be wildly optimistic and assume that OP’s girlfriend will have a 100k job right out of school (absurd btw). How would you feel if you were saddled with a debt equivalent to one year of your gross salary at an interest rate of probably 5%? I’m guessing it wouldn’t feel to you like an amount of money to be dismissed flippantly.

OP, do not touch your GF loans until you are married. If you do get married it’s going to affect your ability to get a loan for a house, amongst other things. Prepare yourself for that. The best strategy would be to live well below your means and pay them off aggressively. With your combined salary this should be doable. I would not let this discourage me from marrying her if I was inclined to do so. Just have a plan in mind. When they are paid off, the burden lifted will feel amazing and you can get on with a lifestyle more appropriate for your combined income.
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sunny_socal
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by sunny_socal » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:47 am

What's all the talk about debt forgiveness? Hey, I just bought a house. How can I get out from under it? Any bogleheads who want to throw in a few dollars? Should I start a gofundme? Answer: Dave Ramsey your way through it together. You keep working, your (future) wife works as a teacher. A few years from now you can post how you paid off that silly student loan and how you'll teach your kids how to stay out of crippling debt.

DO NOT just get it forgiven. I don't to pay for your mistakes.

PS. Don't buy her a diamond ring, don't buy her a Rolex, don't buy a new car, don't host a $45k wedding (whatever culture you're from.) Do a cheap wedding, start now on tackling that mountain.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by gclancer » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:53 am

sunny_socal wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:47 am
DO NOT just get it forgiven. I don't to pay for your mistakes.
That is poor financial advice. If you’re eligible for PLSF the financially prudent thing to do is (most likely) to pursue it. There are situations where it might make sense not to, but the program being unpopular amongst some people isn’t one of them.
Last edited by gclancer on Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

srt7
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by srt7 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:56 am

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
I'm 32 years old, debt free and earn a decent income. My girlfriend and I were both previously engaged, so early into our relationship we talked about a number of serious topics such as marriage, kids, and finances. I was a little shocked when I found out that she had taken out over 100k in student loans in order obtain a teaching degree. Being a newly minted teacher, the minimum payments on these loans represent nearly 50% of her take home pay. While this obviously wasn't the best decision, I don't find her to otherwise be financially irresponsible, so this is in no way a deal breaker for me. I'm struggling with deciding on what I can do to resolve this. I would never pay on a loan for someone that I'm not married to, but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day? I spent my 20s making financial decisions that would set me up comfortably in my 30's, but I didn't account for eliminating 100k in debt while trying to start a family. At this point marriage would be on the horizon in 1-2 years. Thoughts?
Did she ask you for help in paying it off? I know that when it comes to finances many here cannot control themselves from trying to be in control and feel that they need to jump in and help their significant other but sometimes our "holier than thou" attitude can be quite a turn off (to put it mildly).

A different perspective ... Perhaps she's had a plan all along? Perhaps she's always been passionate about teaching, knew what she was doing when taking out a $100K loan and as a newly minted teacher HER PLAN was completely on track until you showed up with all your boglehead'ish plans i.e. :)
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fulltilt
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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by fulltilt » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:07 am

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
I'm 32 years old, debt free and earn a decent income. My girlfriend and I were both previously engaged, so early into our relationship we talked about a number of serious topics such as marriage, kids, and finances. I was a little shocked when I found out that she had taken out over 100k in student loans in order obtain a teaching degree. Being a newly minted teacher, the minimum payments on these loans represent nearly 50% of her take home pay. While this obviously wasn't the best decision, I don't find her to otherwise be financially irresponsible, so this is in no way a deal breaker for me. I'm struggling with deciding on what I can do to resolve this. I would never pay on a loan for someone that I'm not married to, but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day? I spent my 20s making financial decisions that would set me up comfortably in my 30's, but I didn't account for eliminating 100k in debt while trying to start a family. At this point marriage would be on the horizon in 1-2 years. Thoughts?
You know what you CAN do to resolve the situation. You can help pay down the loan as if it is as much your responsibility as hers. I think you might be struggling whether you ought to.

When you get married, and especially when you have kids, nothing kills the relationship more than keeping score on who does more, who pays more, what is fair, etc. If you look at it as “her debt”, then I think that encourages a scorekeeping mentality which is going to hurt the relationship.

She brought this challenge to the table, but it is yours to tackle together once you’re married. Let her pay until then, but don’t wait to talk to her and make a plan on how you intend to handle it. Ditto with saving for a house.

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Stormbringer » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:57 am

Personally, I wouldn't pay anything towards it until you are married, but after that you might want to consider taking a page from the Dave Ramsey playbook on this one. I would do a cheap-o wedding and then pull out all the stops to get that debt paid off, including both of you getting second jobs (wait tables, drive an Uber, or whatever) and slash your living expenses to next to nothing for a couple years to do it. It will suck, but not as bad as having that millstone around your neck for the next 15 or 20 years.

$100K in student loans plus interest will make it really difficult to get your life off the ground.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." - Albert Einstein

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Re: Girlfriend's Student Loans

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:11 am

MilkMoney99 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:24 am
I'm 32 years old, debt free and earn a decent income. My girlfriend and I were both previously engaged, so early into our relationship we talked about a number of serious topics such as marriage, kids, and finances. I was a little shocked when I found out that she had taken out over 100k in student loans in order obtain a teaching degree. Being a newly minted teacher, the minimum payments on these loans represent nearly 50% of her take home pay. While this obviously wasn't the best decision, I don't find her to otherwise be financially irresponsible, so this is in no way a deal breaker for me. I'm struggling with deciding on what I can do to resolve this. I would never pay on a loan for someone that I'm not married to, but would it be unreasonable for me to focus on increasing my income and stacking cash in preparation for tackling this loan one day? I spent my 20s making financial decisions that would set me up comfortably in my 30's, but I didn't account for eliminating 100k in debt while trying to start a family. At this point marriage would be on the horizon in 1-2 years. Thoughts?
Ok, not ideal. She’ll have to go to work if you have kids before loans are paid off or you don’t make enough to shoulder the debt service. If you pay $10k a year, in about 10-11 years you’ll knock the debt out. A teacher has a stable job outlook, if she makes on average 75-100k a year for 30 years, plus benefits it’s not outlandish to have that level of debt. Be disciplined on debt repayments and you’ll get through it.
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