Now that Richard has given you a bracing reminder of the perils of excess student debt grounded in financial common sense, allow me to raise another red flag: your student loans may effect your love life. From NPR:
The increasing debt load of college graduates has affected young people's lives in untold ways, from career choices to living arrangements. Now add another impact on a key part of young adult life: dating and marriage.
Rachel Bingham, an art teacher in Portland, Maine, learned this a few years back, when a guy broke it off after four months of a budding relationship. Among other reasons, he cited her $80,000 in student loan debt.
"He said it scared him," she recalls, "that it really made him anxious. And he just did not want to take on my responsibility."
NPR then goes on to assure us that this phenomenon is not limited to the Portland art teachers of the world (though if there's no hope for them ...):
The issue recently came up in a letter to an advice column at Nerve.com, a pop culture dating website. This time it was a woman wary of a serious relationship because her boyfriend has $150,000 in debt, mostly student loans.
"He was explaining his money stress to me," the woman wrote, "and I started crying because I saw the future I want falling away."
She wrote that she felt "embarrassed" about being so "selfish," and signed her letter, "Am I Being Awful?"
Caitlin Caven, who writes the site's Miss Information column, assured the woman that she's right to take a hard look at things. She suggested that a responsible approach to repayment is more important than the boyfriend's actual — admittedly staggering — amount of debt. Caven says readers also weighed in.
"There were a lot of people saying, 'Dump him, get out,' " she says. "And then there was a lot of backlash, saying, 'Hey, that's unfair. You guys are clearly not thinking about how student debt works in this country. So many people are in debt like that, that you can't just get rid of a good relationship because of it.' "
Caven's right -- up to a point. It obviously makes sense to judge more than one variable when considering the soundness of a relationship. But can we all agree that spending $80,000 to become an art teacher isn't an immaterial consideration in evaluating someone's judgment?
We all know that government's Pavlovian instinct to subsidize higher ed play a huge role in cost inflation (Even Vice President Biden admits this -- though he bizarrely uses it as a rationale for increasing said subsidies). But it's just as big of a problem that people like Ms. Bingham never seem to do a simple cost-benefit analysis of their degree. Thus, what should be the first major investment of their young lives often becomes a massive (and reckless) act of consumption instead.
If you're going to share a checking account with someone someday, that strikes me as a factor worth weighing.