Love In The Time Of Soul-Crushing Student Loan Debt

What kind of lies about money would cause you to end a romantic relationship? What is more important–debt or money problems themselves, or if your significant other lies about them? As young Americans begin their adult lives with unprecedented amounts of student loan debt, it’s important to confront debt and be honest with oneself and before pursuing a serious relationship. Just ask the California woman whose fiancé broke their engagement after learning that her student loan debts were significantly higher than she had previously disclosed.

The New York Times shared her cautionary tale:

[The 31-year-old woman] said she had told him early on in their relationship that she had over $100,000 of debt. But, she said, even she didn’t know what the true balance was; like a car buyer who focuses on only the monthly payment, she wrote 12 checks a year for about $1,100 each, the minimum possible. She didn’t focus on the bottom line, she said, because it was so profoundly depressing.

But as the couple got closer to their wedding day, she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000. “He accused me of lying… But if I was lying, I was lying to myself, not to him. I didn’t really want to know the full amount.”

The Times’ advice for avoiding such romantic/financial catastrophes? Be honest with yourself and with your significant other. Be brutally honest about your career plans and your debt load when preparing for marriage or moving in together. Legal agreements that put into writing whose salary pays whose debt are crucial in the event of (yes, you have to think about it) a divorce.


How Debt Can Destroy a Budding Relationship
[NY Times] (Thanks, bubbicito!)

Comments

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  1. RevancheRM says:

    I suspect the loan amount in the case above was simply the ‘final straw’ for the fiancé. There were deeper issues, I suspect.

    • Sneeje says:

      My thoughts exactly. Honestly, if their relationship couldn’t survive this (which should have been handled by a frank conversation starting with “why were you afraid to talk to me about it?”), then they’re both better off. However, I think they both need to do some self-examination about maturity levels and consider how they would handle future relationship hurdles.

      And I can’t even really see the specific hurdle here. If she had said I have no debt or $10,000 in debt and her debt was an order of magnitude bigger, perhaps. But when it was already 100K and it was 70K bigger? I mean, he already knew she was in massive debt–he then has an issue with it being moderately more massive?

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Agreed.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I don’t know if you grasp the seriousness of $170,000 of debt. That debt would belong to him as well if they were married-it’s a BIG deal. This isn’t to say the couple breaks up, it just means it’s a game changer for a marriage.

      • mmeetoilenoir lurktastique says:

        Sigh…no, you’re wrong. This is a myth. Whatever debt is yours coming into the marriage stays in your name. It doesn’t suddenly blossom into the other person’s name once you hit the altar. After you marry, any new debt goes into both your names.

        • hansolo247 says:

          Yes, but if the debt-owing partner must pay the debt, the other partner is going to be impacted.

          I know a girl who married a bum dad with a child support obligation. He’s a bum, so the child support comes from her earnings, now.

          The article discussed 2 people. One, a medical student with a lot of debt for med school. The other, a medical tech owing $170K for…a liberal arts BA. The former will most likely pay it off over time. If engaged to the latter and I found that out and she’d been holding it back, I’d split in a heartbeat.

        • mac-phisto says:

          & that’s only in community property states (there’s only 9 of those). in most states, debt is only held jointly if it’s contracted jointly.

    • tk427 says:

      I have no doubt that there were deeper issues.

      Here we have a guy who is in a position to take over running the family business in Austria. He, at some point, has to tell his family that he is going to marry this woman and live in the US instead. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of “family meeting/intervention” session with his family wanting to know more details about this woman. The guy finds out the exact figures of her debt and 3 days later, (possibly after talking to his family about it) he breaks off the engagement. My theory is that the opinions and advice of his family mean more to him than his relationship with her. If that is the case, he is doing her a BIG favor by breaking it off.

      I could just be paranoid because of past “in-law/spineless mammas boy” issues of my own, but my theory fits the facts in the article.

      • hansolo247 says:

        No, the guy from Austria is sticking with her. The medical school student.

        The OTHER girl, the med tech owing $170K, got dumped.

  2. BobOki says:

    Maybe and maybe not. Thanks to Clinton (one of his few bad things he did, like selling protected forest) student loans are still under heavy protections. You cannot get away via bankruptcy, you cannot sue them no matter what they do, and they have no oversight. Should this girl start to default on her loans, they very much can go after her husbands money, and he would have quite literally no recourse he could pursue.

    • sleze69 says:

      I like the student loan proposal that is going on in the UK. Instead of people getting out of their loans by just ignoring them, they propose that a percentage of the person’s wages just be garnished automatically. That way, people can’t skip out on their debts BUT the unemployed don’t have to pay money they don’t have.

      • veritybrown says:

        It is already possible in the U.S. to get deferments based on the inability to pay. Remarkable, someone in the U.S. gov realizes you can’t get blood out of a turnip.

        The defaulters either don’t know this option exists (if they are too poor to pay) or they are just freeloaders (if they *could* afford the payments but don’t make them) who deserve to have their wages and tax refunds garnished.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I think a lot of the people who are defaulting have many thousands in private student loans which typically can’t be deferred.

        • oloranya says:

          You usually can’t defer private loans based on lack of income, only federal ones.

        • sleze69 says:

          The advantage of the UK proposal is that it is automatic.

          No paycheck? No college bill this month. No deferring required.

    • veritybrown says:

      Unless the two partners combine their student loan debt (which is a really, really BAD idea), I think that it’s one of the few types of debt that they can’t go after anyone but you for. For example, if you were to die, your student loan would be automatically discharged; the government cannot come after your spouse to pay the debt (unless you were dumb enough to combine your debt).

    • mac-phisto says:

      as long as you keep finances separate, they can’t go after your spouse’s money for your debt. the key is to keep property & assets out of the debtor’s name & keep bank accounts separate.

      marrying someone doesn’t mean they’re on the hook for your debt. they didn’t sign a contract – you did. & as long as you don’t mix your money, lenders have no right to attach any property not held by you, regardless of your marital status.

      • azntg says:

        That doesn’t mean that some of the more unscrupulous ones (pretty much all of the financial companies out there it seems) won’t try anyway and that can become a major headache to the person who does not legitimately owe the debt.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If one could freely expunge their student loan debt via bankruptcy, too many would rack up a doctorate degree’s worth of private school debt and then immediately file bankruptcy.

      My g/f is a teacher with a master’s. If she were able to expunge the debt, I would have advised her to do so. Technically her payments are to be around 50% of her current earnings. The only thing that saves her is income-based payment plans. But there is no way she can repay it before the 20 year cap on student debt.

      • Luckier says:

        That was the myth on which the added “protections” for student loan debt were sold to the public – that doctors and lawyers were discharging their debt immediately after bankruptcy. However, at the time only about 2% of student loans went into default. So, the first change was to make student loans non-dischargable for five years post-school. Most doctors and lawyers (and other heavy student loan borrowers) will have assets at five years post-school, and won’t want to lose those assets in bankruptcy. Also, under current bankruptcy law, most debt isn’t simply immediately discharged – if you have any significant assets, you end up in a payment plan for a period of time before any debt discharges under Chapter 13.

        • Bohemian says:

          Under the current law student loan debt is non-dischargable FOREVER. The only clause on the books is if you become disabled, but there are so many excuses that nobody can use the clause. So people are having their social security garnished to pay student loan debts. There is something horribly wrong about that.

      • Powerlurker says:

        If you’re going into debt getting a Ph.D, you’re doing it wrong. Any decent program should be paying you an adequate stipend and tuition waiver. If you can’t find anyone that will, you should seriously reconsider your future plans in that field.

        • lockdog says:

          Used to be true, but not so much any more. Between budget cutbacks at universities and the influx of people staying in school in order to avoid trying to get into the job market those fully funded PHD students aren’t nearly as common as they used to be. Plus, even a tuition waiiver and stipend may not be enough to cover cost of living in some cities. I had a full ride plus about a $1200 dollar a semester stipend and managed to work about 30 hours a week and still pulled about $16k in debt…and that was living on campus. (also, I worked almost every Friday and Saturday night, so I didn’t drink that money down either). Still, I’m working in a (low-paying) field I love and should have the loan knocked out in a few more years,

  3. Tongsy says:

    I really don’t think I could marry into that much debt either (unless it was a mortgage)

    But I suspect that wasn’t the only thing that caused this.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You and RevancheRM have a good point. This was probably the final straw. A person who can get into that much debt, ignore the bottom line for so long, and misrepresent to a person they supposedly love the amount of debt they are actually in is not someone who is 100% tethered to reality. Debt IS depressing – better to get out of it faster. Some people just like to push it away as long as they can, like if they don’t see it, it’s not there.

      • tailspin says:

        not to mention — it’s tough to go into a marriage knowing that over the next X number of years, $170,000 of that person’s income is going to go towards this single debt instead of contributing to your mutual expenses (monthly bills, mortgage, vacations, savings, whatever). even if the fiance/husband isn’t on the hook for the debt, he’s stuck paying a chunk of their bills because her money has to go elsewhere. that sucks.

    • Conformist138 says:

      My thought is that it does reflect on her character in a way. I know people who hide from their problems (I used to do it a lot, myself), and if it’s a habit you are in, it can ruin your life. My roommate/landlady does this to the point of insanity. She just never does anything until she is backed against a wall with no way out, and then just breaks down and cries about it as though life is unfair. The effort she then puts into fixing the problem goes way above and beyond anything she would have needed if she’d just faced the problem in the beginning. Literally, this winds up being a problem for everything from her ability to manage money to telling people she lives with that the smell of their cooking is bothering her. Someone who ignores problems for a long time often shows it in more than just money and debt management.

      Lying to yourself about your debt and not taking a deep breath and at least looking at it isn’t a good way to start out tethering yourself to another person and their finances. I would run, too, if I found the estimate was off by 70%. My bills state my full balance and, despite being on autopay, I still look at them every now and then to add up to a debt total just so I know how screwed I am. Amazingly, knowing even the high balances makes the whole thing feel less stressful.

  4. adlauren says:

    I think I’m going to call my parents today just to thank them for saving up for my college education. It takes stories like this to remind me how lucky I am to be able to go into the world debt-free.

    • zmnatz says:

      Same here. Then I’ll thank my brother for getting a full ride so I had money from saving up for 2 kids :)

      • Newto-Rah says:

        Thank my parents for saving lots of money instead of spending it on trips and fancy TVs, thank my parents again for being canadian so I can go get 4 year engineering degree from a top notch school for

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’ll have to call Uncle Sam and thank him for the GI Bill.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        I’ll have to call you and thank you for serving.

      • mechteach1 says:

        Thank *you* for your service to our country!

      • jason in boston says:

        I’ll call Uncle Sam for the 12 month post 9-11 MGIB in addition to my chapter 30. I am now finishing a BA from Boston University. If the post 9-11 MGIB didn’t happen, I would be stuck at Umass (not knocking the school but the fees are really out of control).

        • Willnet says:

          Ditto.. 36mo. Chapter 30 with Texas Hazlewood Exemption (free tuition 150 hours), 12 mo. Post 9/11, 2k per semester financial aid, scholarships, and a part-time job. Looking back, suckin in the sandbox was totally worth it and I’m only 22! :D

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I’m pretty much double dipping with the GI BIll.

          I was in the Army (active duty) in the 1990’s and then went to college when I ETS’d. I then joined the National Guard and used the active duty GI BIll and the Guard’s Educational Assistance Program to pay for college and grad school. I was already deployed (in Kosovo) during 9/11, which then made me eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. When in Kosovo, I was forgiven $5,000 in student loans.

          I’m now back in grad school part time thanks to the new GI BIll program.

          Thank you Uncle Sam.

    • misterfweem says:

      I put myself through undergrad and grad school. Guess I’ll take myself out for lunch.

    • Das G says:

      I’ll have to thank my parents for paying for my sister’s 5 years of education (which she never actually used in life) during the same 5 years I was paying back my student loans. #bitter

      • Pastry Minion says:

        While we’re at it, I’d like to thank my parents for getting my full-ride scholarship pulled for failing to file their tax returns. #extrabitter

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m going to thank my parents for only having one child so I didn’t have to share the college fund.

    • Brink006 says:

      Ahahaha what a post/picture combo. What about “BOOTSTRAPS” and “SELF MADE MAN/WOMAN?”

    • tailspin says:

      I’m going to thank my parents for being involved in my studies and pushing me to study my butt off in high school so that I’d be offered a scholarship to college. They couldn’t afford my tuition, and didn’t want me to be stuck with that much debt… so I busted my arse like crazy all through high school and didn’t have to pay a penny of college tuition. Best present my parents could have given me.

      • jesusofcool says:

        Agreed. Thank you parents for saving for my sake, for working long hours for my sake, for pushing me to study and get a scholarship. Thanks to my parents for skimping on vacations, eating out, big ticket presents, fancy clothes. We may have had secondhand things growing up and may not have gone out a lot, but between big time scholarships and parents savings I graduated college with money in my pocket and spending habits I will always be grateful for.

      • Michaela says:

        I did the same thing. I am so thankful my mother (father was not present) pushed me to do my best. I am given tuition, food, housing, and everything else with my scholarships (plus, I have cash left over that I get to keep for personal use).

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        I’m thankful for the scholarships I was given as well.

  5. tehbob says:

    I wouldnt marry a 31 year old woman who had 170k in debt because she was not responsible enough to pay more than the minimum because “it was depressing….”

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      And $170k in debt for a BA in Photography, at that. At that debt level, I would be expecting higher earning power. $170k is a lot easier to repay on a doctor’s salary than on an x-ray technician’s.

      • qbubbles says:

        Photography!? $170k for photography!! Jesus, I knew I was holding off for a reason. And its not even an MFA!? Christ. Yeah, she’s a moron. Dump her.

        • bee8boo8bop8 says:

          One of the women profiled was getting a medical degree for her mortgage worth of debt, but the one whose fiance left her had a BA in Photography. The mind, it boggles.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            The woman who was in medical school actually seemd to have a good grasp of her own situation, and it wasn’t a snowballing effect. She seemed to really understand what kind of debt she was undertaking, and that’s the difference between the two, I think.

        • Clyde Barrow says:

          Hey man, college ain’t cheap anymore. I got an Associate in Applied Science from ITT Tech because I began school again at 31 years of age. At the time in ’93, there weren’t any online schools and where I lived, I couldn’t attend MSU, UofM, Western Mich, etc. So I had to settle but I knew that I would be advancing to a better college after this degree anyway. That degree only cost me $15k. In 2006 a cousin of mine grad from the same school with an Associates in IT and it cost him $40k. In 2005 my ex was looking at an MBA from MSU and the cost was going to be $65k. My MBA costs me $25k in 2003 and has nearly doubled from the same college that I attended. Paying $100k to $170k for any degree is becoming the norm.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Photography!! Oh jesus, that was my major.
        One year at the state university and the rest in community college= less than $20,000 in debt, the rest paid out of pocket. Good god, at least I was smart enough to know that my major was the educational equivalent of Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber.

        Even my instructors told us that most of us wouldn’t go into photography as a career. If I’d asked one of them if going $170,000 in debt was a smart move, they would have put me in an indoor-helmet, pinned a note to my shirt, and aimed me in the direction of a “Life Skills” class.

        At least my $170/mo loan payments sound pretty reasonable now.

  6. CharlesFarley says:

    People piss and moan about the rising cost of gasoline, food, medicine and medical care but woe be to the person who brings up the fact that higher education inflation has out paced everything else.

    Let’s see if those in their ivory towers are willing to give of their salaries to those who want or need an education.

    • Anonymously says:

      I have a feeling the money is going towards increasingly extravagant student-life programs, such as new sports stadiums, high-end dorm furnishings, etc.

      A McMansion parent doesn’t want to send their baby to live in a comparative slum, ya know.

      • bee8boo8bop8 says:

        Add to that growing administrations, probably in part to deal with all the new legal issues involving college students and the parents who watch over them. Colleges today have way more deans per student than they did a couple decades ago–as well as directors of residence life, student health, student activities and their respective staffs. It adds up.

        • 339point4 says:

          Seriously. A good friend of mine just got a job as a glorified RA where his wife attends grad school. He has a master’s degree and left a state job to take this one because the pay was so much better and the perks included a very nice apartment furnished with things like a 47″ flat-screen TV.

      • Bativac says:

        The college I graduated from just installed a resort-style dorm with a full fitness center, swimming pools, and a lazy river. Meanwhile tuition has tripled since I graduated (which was only 5 years ago!).

      • veritybrown says:

        The things that colleges find to spend money on would amaze you. When I was in graduate school, the state refused an increase to our university’s operating budget. The university decided to punish the students (hoping, I suppose, that complaints to mommy and daddy would result in parents putting pressure on their legislators) by not replacing the paper towels in the bathrooms all semester. However, during this same semester, I observed the rampway handrail at the library being repainted THREE times (yes, in one semester!), as well as other pointless “maintenance” projects.

        This is the same university that, when we complained about the quality of the air and water in our building, decided that the only “air quality hazard” was the second-hand couches in the teaching assistant offices and FORCED us to get rid of them.

    • rpm773 says:

      Have money, will spend. We’ve decided that everyone has a right to a college education, and an industry of lending (via private lenders and the government) has developed to cover any and all costs for the student, keeping the latter insulated from the annual increases.

      I’m afraid this is simple supply and demand, though. The way to end the increases and possibly deflate the price in this model is to reduce demand. Either reduce the availability of financing, set the academic bar for entrance higher, or get high school juniors and seniors to wake up and realize incurring a few hundred K in debt, only to come out making $35K in salary, is unacceptable.

      • FoxCMK says:

        You’re absolutely right, but you yourself stated the very reasons this won’t ever happen: People feel entitled to a college education. Conventional wisdom has cultivated a society that demands – or at least strongly suggests – a college education in order to be even remotely successful.

    • mechteach1 says:

      I agree that tuition is rising at too fast a rate, but blaming the profs is a cop-out. At least at most public schools (where, ostensibly, many people who “want or need an education” could go), profs in the humanities and social sciences do not make particularly high salaries. Profs in STEM fields (of which I am one) make considerably more, but there are two reasons for that: (1) STEM field graduates can make more in most industries, and universities need to be competitive with those salaries, and (2) many STEM field profs bring in a good deal of external funding to a university. For example, I easily bring in three times my annual salary in government/industry funding, and some years it is more like 7-8 times my salary (not even including the money the university makes from licensing my patents).

  7. qbubbles says:

    What kind of degree did she get? Law? Medical? If it wasnt one of the big ones I dont see why she’d need 170k in loans. Unless her diploma was printed on dead virgin skin and hand written in gold leaf.

  8. Anonymously says:

    I married into about $40K of debt years ago, still being paid off. It’s difficult and I can see why this guy balked.

    Sometimes love conquers all, sometimes it doesn’t.

  9. DariusC says:

    That lady has an attitude problem… she didn’t want to face up to her debt and is crying about how depressing it is. I really hope that many walked away and left her to think about the poor decisions she has made.

    Nobody likes a liar. Ignorance is no defense.

    • slappysquirrel says:

      Shrug. If she was making the payments, I don’t see what the big deal is.

      • hansolo247 says:

        the big deal is another $70K that will have to be paid. While not necessarily by him, the basket of goods the couple will be able to consume is now much lower than he thought.

        Plus, there’s the fact that she’s bad with money and has a track record of lying about money.

        Alone, that’s enough to break off an engagement. If you don’t trust them anymore, a marriage isn’t going to work.

        And the whole “I didn’t know how much it really was…I didn’t want to know” thing is BS. She knew…everyone with a student loan that size knows.

  10. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    “…she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000… who had run up much of the balance studying for a bachelor’s degree in photography…”

    She clearly made a lot of mistakes but whenever I hear these kind of stories, I can’t help to think the entire system failed her. Somebody should have knocked some reality into her well before this happened — her parents, financial aid counselor, her adviser, high school counselor… There is an entire industry full of people who are professionals in their field, well trained in the ins and outs of financial aid — They should have put a stop to the insanity of a naive kid.

    Just because you get accepted to the college of your dreams doesn’t mean you should go. It sucks but that’s life. Unless you get offered large scholarships, then private school should be out of the question.

    I ran into the same brick wall when I was in high school. I was accepted at several very prestigious schools that offered very lucrative scholarships but they only brought unaffordable $30k/year tuition down to a slightly less unaffordable $20k/year. I wound up joining the Army and using the GI Bill for my undergrad at a big state school and then getting a very good funding package for grad school at a very prestigious school.

    • qbubbles says:

      I got into Smith, Wellesley, Vassar and Amherst… along with a bunch of state schools. All in the $40k-ish range. When I got into UVA (At $8k cuz I was in state) I said EFF JOO to all the Ivies. Gotta do whatcha gotta do. And if its comparable education for under a 4th of the price, its a steal.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        And UVA is a damn fine school, to boot.

        • qbubbles says:

          And dont they know it. It costs 3 times for an out of stater to go to Mr. Jefferson’s University. I felt bad for my friend from New York, but she was going into Biomedical Engineering, so, ya know, she was earning her debt.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Same thing happened to me… I got into Cornell, Penn, and a few other very good schools. They did offer excellent scholarships but it wasn’t enough to justify the costs.

        I wound up joining the Army and then going to Pitt (later transferring to Penn State) when I got out. A few years later, I did manage to get into Penn for grad school with a very lucrative funding package. I really did dream of going to Cornell (I absolutely love Ithaca) but am so glad that I didn’t go there right out of high school. I can’t imagine graduating with $100k worth of debt, regardless of how good the school is. That’s no way to start adulthood.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I wish I had done that. But I didn’t. The only thing I can do is try to negotiate payments and not lie to anyone about them.

        And find a better job. Not easy right now but hopefully things will get better.

      • rpm773 says:

        For me it was out-of-state versus in-state. I wanted to do the former.

        My old man sat me down and told me I’d leave school owing over 60K. That made things pretty clear.

        It was tough, but I stayed in-state, and graduated with a job making 2.5 times what I owed in student loans. I never had to sweat paying it off over the next decade.

        HS seniors have to ask themselves if being able to announce they’re attending that prestigious institution for a few months worth the $100K+ debt they’re going to incur.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          “For me it was out-of-state versus in-state. I wanted to do the former.”

          I think a lot of students fall into that trap. Out-of-state tuition at a typical state school can be prohibitively expensive. Is there really that much of a difference between Penn State and Ohio State to warrant paying an extra $10k – $20k for out-of-state tuition per year?

          Then again, it must be hard for people who grow up in very rural states and only have two colleges to choose from.

          • Powerlurker says:

            Paying out-of-state tuition at a public school is probably the worst of all possible worlds when it comes to college financial decisions. You’re paying near private school tuition without getting a lot of the benefits, and the good private schools are likely to have much more generous financial aid.

            • Notorius_VMG says:

              Exactly my situation back in in the late eighties…I got accepted at the in-state university, but also a nearby expensive private college. I had good grades but high financial need. Once the financial aid packages arrived, it was CHEAPER for me to attend the better private school than the state university. Better scholarship, smaller loans, etc. Worked out great for me, but I wonder what it is like nowadays. I discovered last year that my alma mater is more than 40K a year. Ugh. My son is 2 now, and his 529 plan could buy maybe 1 month at my old school.

          • Itsatrap says:

            Some state public universities have tuition reciprocity agreements with other states (or other similar programs). So, a student could go to an out-of-state public university but pay only a little more than what the resident tuition is.
            It really is something all students should look into.

            • Michaela says:

              Mississippi State waives out-of-state tuition for Alabama students with a decent GPA. Unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t seem to do this (which really bummed me out when picking schools).

      • winnabago says:

        None of these are technically Ivy League? Sorry to nitpick…

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Good job and you did it right. I wish I had taken that route also.

    • Willnet says:

      What did you major in?

  11. jenl1625 says:

    Ooookay. She says “something over $100K, I don’t even know how much exactly” and he thinks that finding out it’s really $170K means she lied and mislead him? It is in fact over $100K. At least it’s less than $200K….

    And she needs to stop “just writing checks” and start paying attention to which of her student loans the money is going to, and doing her best to direct some extra money towards whichever ones have the highest interest and/or could actually be paid off in the next decade.

    And boy, I hope that for $170K in student loans, she got an education that gets her a job with decent pay…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      She’s an x-ray technician who got a degree in photography. Somehow I doubt her priorities were to get a job lucrative enough to off her debt in a reasonable time.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The article obviously doesn’t go into the nuances and intricacies of their exchange, but I think it was lying or misleading only because maybe she made it seem like she had it all under control. Technically, “over $100,000″ was not lying, but the true number was nearly twice as much, and that was probably unexpected. I think the fault lies with both people – she should have been in control of her debt, and should not have ignored it. He should have grown a spine and asked to help her with her finances, even if it’s just to get a more accurate picture of the problem. It was a shock that could have been prevented with some planning.

  12. pz says:

    Sorry, bullshit.

    If she was paying something, she was getting a statement each month. On that statement was printed her total amount of debt. If she didn’t know at that point, it’s because she was _actively_ ignoring it, not “lying to herself.”

    • 339point4 says:

      Is it possible she had loans from multiple sources and just never sat down to do the addition?

      • qbubbles says:

        Its also possible that they’re all from the same place with a set up to automatically deduct. You get no statement other than an email saying “Hi! We took your cash, today in X amount. Thanks!”

    • ARP says:

      Some of those statements actually don’t give you the outstanding loan amount, just the original loan amount and how the monthly payment is applied.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Actually, I only get statements from the private and fed loans once a year. Payments are DD, so it is very easy to ignore the total amount.

    • wonderfibre says:

      For UK loans (not private) we just get an annual statement rather than a monthly one. These statements do have a higher-than-average tendency to get lost in the post (I firmly believe that sometimes they just don’t bother to post them).

  13. dbeahn says:

    If I were the fiance, I’d be looking at two things:

    1) Either she DID know the amount, and minimized it (lied) on purpose.
    or
    2) She DID NOT know the real amount, which means that she’s so bad with money she can’t even keep track of what she owes to whom.

    Either way, I’d have to seriously reconsider if someone that has one of these two major personality issues going on was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Either one (not being able to be honest or not being able to manage money) can lead to far more “worse” than “better” when you’re in it “for better or worse”.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      If it were the second one, the fiance could offer to help her get things organized. Sometimes people who aren’t good with this stuff could use a little help rather than just a blanket condemnation “You’re lazy,” “You don’t care,” etc. I can’t see the original article so I don’t know if he tried to do that.

      • theblackdog says:

        And sometimes some people will take the help and misuse it. My ex boyfriend who was getting help from me ended up having his wages garnished (which he hid from me) for his student loans.

        Of course, my warning should have been when I learned he just went and walked away from all of his credit cards and loans and never bothered trying to pay them.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      I’m sorry, but how is “not knowing the full amount exactly” being bad with money? She’s paying the loan on time, and at the amount requested. Being BAD with the money is not paying, or paying late. He should be sitting down with her to go over a plan for this and all their debt/budget concerns, not throwing her out. It’s likely this was the last straw, and not the only factor.

  14. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I don’t see an x-ray technician trying to become a photographer being able to pay those student loans. Why has she been loaned so much money?

    Student loans are out of hand. Colleges and universities have little incentive to contain costs when students will simply borrow more.

    I was hoping this recession would wake us up. Easy credit is going to be our downfall.

  15. odarkshineo says:

    yea…thats an excuse…obviously just looking for an out

  16. ThunderRoad says:

    My current GF has a BFA and is a freelance illustrator (ie, she makes pretty much no money). She has some $50,000 in student loan debt and there’s no way we would get married and saddle me with that responsibility. I owe $160k on my $240k house as effectively my only debt.

    For us, it would be financially foolish to get married.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      You can have a lawyer create a pre-nup to keep your debt load your responsibility no matter what happens. The OP should look into this. At least I think you can do this. Does anyone know for sure?

      • human_shield says:

        Except that by being married they share expenses, so he would effectively be paying it off anyway since she makes little money.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Wow, you’re a romantic! ;)

      But seriously, it’s her debt with her name on it. It doesn’t work how you think it does. Do a little research there, Prince Charming.

    • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

      I have my fingers crossed that she becomes a successful illustrator and easily pays off her student loans, but not before she dumps you for not wanting to marry over to a $300/month bill.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      You mean your GF would be a fool for marrying into your debt that is three times the amount of her’s?

    • jesusofcool says:

      Laura mentioned legal agreements that put into writing whose salary pays what debt. Is this becoming more common? Seems like a great solution for couples who come into the marriage with drastically different financial situations.

      • hansolo247 says:

        And when the worse of “better or worse” comes up and one partner can’t pay, what then?

        Debt is bad, unless it will lead somewhere. The basket of goods a couple can consume each year is lower because of the debt, plain and simple.

        Stupid little agreements about who pays for what don’t change that.

  17. rpm773 says:

    He accused me of lying… But if I was lying, I was lying to myself, not to him. I didn’t really want to know the full amount.”

    How can you love others if you don’t love yourself? And your debt? Or something. N shit.

  18. Meano says:

    Backing out the loan, what does Ms. Eastman have?

    $170k and a $1100/month payment would be about a 4.75% 20-year loan. If she’s been paying it (or them) off for a few years and $170k is the remaining balance, then her original balance was higher and the rate was lower. (If she’s, say, three years in then she’s likely paying 3.5 – 4.0%.)

    Makes my (much smaller) balance at two-and-a-quarter seem downright trivial…

  19. Andy Dufresne says:

    Nice cleavage shot.

  20. Clyde Barrow says:

    I would not call off a wedding because of this for a couple of reasons but it sucks. I thought my debt of $65k was bad. I feel for this woman.

    It’s kind of expected these days to have such large school debt unless you go to the U.K. or Europe for college.

    Back in 2004 USAToday ran an article where parents were beginning to send their kids to England for college because it was cheaper. If I had college-aged kids I’d do the same.

  21. slappysquirrel says:

    I really don’t see what the big deal is if she was making the payments. I personally wouldn’t borrow 170k to get a photography degree, but if she did and she was taking care of it, so what?

    Also, if she said “It’s more than $100,000, but it is too depressing to look at the total amount” and he didn’t interpret that to mean “150k at least,” he’s an idiot.

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      it’s not a big deal, unless you’re the person marrying her. $1100/month in debt repayment for a decade or more is a big restriction on what you can do as a couple. That level of payment could limit a spouse from staying home to raise children, or prevent one spouse from changing fields or pursuing more training, or cause the couple to delay childbearing until they had a better handle on the debt. I can see why one would seriously rethink a relationship if there was that much debt involved.

      • Anonymously says:

        You’d have to pay 30% of your take-home pay for approximately 30 years to pay off that debt.

        It’d take 13 years to pay it back at $1,100 a month at 0% interest. At 6.8% it’d take 31 years and cost $236,000 in interest.

        If you’re making 56K a year as an x-ray tech, you take home about $3,600 a month after federal tax.

  22. dolemite says:

    He’s pretty smart. I wish I had paid the same notice before I got married…there were a lot of warning signs about her fiscal responsibility (which is basically non-existant), but I was blinded by love I guess.

    • hansolo247 says:

      Been there.

      Her breaking up with me was the best thing that could have happened. She owed a LOT of money…hundreds of thousands on a middling salary. Took me almost 2 years to realize it, but I do now.

  23. ckspores says:

    $170,000 for a photography degree and x-ray tech cert? This man ran because he realized that she’s a moron.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Private art schools are very, very expensive…but that’s also probably an accumulation of interest, especially if she was paying nothing in school.

  24. describe_one says:

    If he really loved her, then he would have had her sign a pre-nup instead of dumping her…

  25. strongbow says:

    The short answer is that I do not assume my partner’s debts that he accrued independently, in his own name, prior to our marriage, just by marrying him. Those debts are his responsibility and no one can legally go after me for that money.

    OTOH, once we’re married, if we put both our names on the house, the car, a joint account, etc., then my stake in each of those can be threatened when someone comes after my partner for payment. But that’s a different issue than assuming someone’s debts by marrying them.

    Once married, I might want to help my partner out since getting rid of the debt will improve both our lives in the long run, but again, I am not automatically responsible for paying his debt. Of course, I might resent the fact that my partner doesn’t have any money to put toward food/car/vacation/home because it’s all going to their debt, but if that’s the case then I shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

  26. Puddy Tat says:

    I am sorry but this is like chaining himself to an anchor, one that could drowned him very easily in debt.

    And as many mentioned this relationship I would suspect had many issues, one being that she wasn’t $170k worth of hotness.

    Good Luck,
    Tat

  27. Mooneyes says:

    I can see how this could easily be high. Some peoples student loan interest rates are 7%. Mine are 4.5% for 30 years. I don’t make enough money out of school to pay the close to $1000 a month I needed to pay, and had to reconsolidate to the 30 years, instead of 10 year that student loans start out at.

    A friend of mine told me he refused to marry his now wife until her debts were paid. Although I think he was the one who paid them. I guess they just held off on the wedding until they could get the debt paid down. He didn’t want to take on her debt.

  28. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    Marrying a med student means marrying the debt. But that’s a price I’m willing to pay for such a solid retirement plan. ;-)

  29. sopmodm14 says:

    marriages are a sham nowadays, what happened to richer or poorer ?

    should they add “…in debt or without…” ??

    $100k from a photography degree though ? ouch !

    i’d like to read on his financial status

  30. MomInTraining says:

    The spouse who does not have the student loan debt is not responsible for the debt in anyway. Of course, making a monstrous monthly student loan payment is a hardship, but that is the way debt is. But the non-indebted spouse will never have his or her wages garnished, be sued, or even have their income tax refunds taken permanently. They can actually do an injured spouse appeal and get their part of the refund back. So you kind of take the debt when you get married because of the financial circumstances, but it is not the same as a joint mortgage or car loan in any way.

    As far as college costs go, I think many of them are too high, but students also demand things that cost money at a college. Fast internet, luxury dorms, nice classrooms, etc. With that said, I work at a college that is pretty inexpensive as far as schools go. It is a mid-size state college. We have so many directors and administrators that it is laughable. I personally know of about $250,000 a year in salaries of people who literally do nothing. My department could use more staff and bust our butts every day, but I see waste everywhere even in our department. The whole fiscal year thing encourages the waste at universities. At our school, if you don’t spend every dime of your budget, you lose the money. And may not get funded next year for the same amount. So in late May, the spending spree begins. Check it out at your school and watch those tuition dollars get blown.

  31. mdovell says:

    The real issue isn’t so much that schools raise tuition but rather the way the aid does that for them. As the government subsidizes the demand the supply remains the same.

    If we want to lower the price of education there’s a simple way to do it…subsidize the supply.

    If we take FAFSA and turn it into block grants to states to enlarge their educational systems it would expand choice. Choice means competition. If there was a four year school in every county in the country why would any school need dorms at that point? The professors and staff probably won’t go for it because unions would have to compete with other unions (it is very rare but it can happen)

  32. areaman says:

    A photo of Allison Brooke Eastman:

    http://www.blogger.com/profile/09165493872451430770

    That’s the only Allison Brooke Eastman photo I could find.

    Will do a commentary type post in separate post.

  33. operator207 says:

    This was a lie, plain and simple. She lied to him when she said “over $100k” and to herself when she didn’t go find out exactly what the debt was. Debt is serious business. You have to really love someone to be ok with inheriting $100k in debt, no less $170k. If the person I was trusting with the rest of my life, my future children, and probably many other things, lied to me(by being lazy, careless, or dumb) and had almost double the debt she told me she had, I would be pretty pissed. Definitely pissed enough to stop the wedding.