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Six Unexpected Ways Student Loan Debt Can Affect Your Life

May 22, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

It might be tempting to go to an expensive school for the name recognition and networking opportunities. But have you weighed these possible perks—which may or may not help you get a job afterward—with the very real ways your large student loan debt will affect your life? There are many ways student loans can hold you back in life—that may not occur to you until after you graduate. Here are just a few.

It could end a relationship

Maybe you’re in love—but if you have no debt and your partner has over $100,000 in debt, it will seriously affect your relationship. Nobody wants to admit they take debt into account when they consider marriage, but in some states, you’ll be considered equally responsible for your spouse’s loans even if you divorce. Taking on that much debt should never be considered lightly.

It could make you postpone marriage

Even if your large debt load doesn’t scare your future spouse away, it could make you postpone getting married. Paying large student loan bills each month can make it difficult to save for a wedding and for the expenses involved in starting a new life together—including buying a house and raising a family.


Student loans don’t just keep you from pursuing your dreams. They also keep you from starting an independent life as an adult.



It could keep you in a career you hate

If you have large student loan bills, you need to take the highest paying job that comes along—even if it’s not something you love. Maybe you dreamed of being a teacher, but you just got promoted to manager in your cubicle-farm job—and taking a leap into public school teaching could mean a pay cut of thousands. With student loan companies demanding a large fraction of your salary each month, you’re much less likely to follow your passions and more likely to be forced to follow a paycheck.

It can keep you from taking chances

Maybe you want to switch careers, start a small business, or go travel the world for a few years. With large student loans, it’s much more difficult to do this—and often it’s impossible. With a large debt load, your life is much less likely to be about following daring dreams and adventure—and more about punching a clock.

If you’re ready to jump into a career right away and stick at it until middle management and middle age—and if your career pays well and doesn’t have high rates of unemployment—then incurring high student loan debt may be worth it. If you’re more of a free spirit or entrepreneur, however, those student loans will get in your way.

It can keep you in your parents’ basement

Student loans don’t just keep you from pursuing your dreams. They also keep you from starting an independent life as an adult. Even with a job, you may not be earning enough after paying loans and other bills to pay rent—so you could be stuck in the same bedroom you slept in as a high school student.

It can keep you from building wealth

If you’re like many recent grads, you could have enough student loans to keep you paying for decades. If that’s the case, you’re likely to save less and put less into your retirement account. In addition, since home loans are more difficult to get after the mortgage meltdown, your student loan debt could keep you renting for longer—instead of building wealth and equity by buying a home. Your student loans will keep you from building up the amount of wealth you could have without—in more ways than one.

You should never enter into the decision to take on student loans without considering how they will affect your life. Student loan debt can hold you back in many ways—affecting your relationships, career choices, and quality of life for years to come. They may help you go to your dream school, but they can also keep you from living the life you want—and college is supposed to help you live that life, not hold you back from it.



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