Post # 1
Hey Bees, I could really use some advice right now.
Background: My boyfriend and I are majoring in EE. I am graduating this June and he still has a year to go. I will have no student debt (god bless my mother) and as of a month ago my boyfriend told me (numerous times) he was expecting around $40 k in student debt.
Today: I was talking to a few friends about student loans and one was almost in tears because he was expecting around $90 k. He has been living at home as a commuter, and saving everything he has to combat this. I was blown away. Ninety thousand dollars for undergraduate eduation.
This sparked a conversation between my boyfriend and I (who are planning on getting engaged around christmas, and married Oct 2015). I asked him how it was possible that he only had 40k when my friend has 90k, for going to the same school and neither parents helping pay tuition. (this is a private school if any one is wondering, and we all have about half paid for by scholarships).
He told me he thought he’d be pushing around $50 k. I was like… ok.. that’s more than I thought but still managable. Then after a little hesistation he says ” oh wait, I forgot to add in federal loans – so probably closer to 70″. I was so upset. How do you forget about 20 thousand dollars.
Here’s where it gets worse. I asked him to go home and make a spreadsheet of all the money he will owe, and the interest rates so we can talk about it. I was in tears just thinking about the implications of 70 k. Well turns out he is pushing $ 90k in student loans!! I am SO upset. He claims he “didn’t know” but he MUST have signed off on it!
Bees.. I need your help. I did not sign up for $ 90k in debt. Maybe if he had been upfront about it.. but either he lied about it or he just didn’t know about it which is completely irresponsible. Student loans are the one thing in my country that is not forgiven and will not be dismissed. I can’t even begin to think about what this means for our future. It will take us over a decade of living modestly and going week to week to pay this off – when we had planned on having children in the next 6-7 years. Now we can’t. We can’t have kids when we wanted to, we can’t buy a house, we can’t have our dream wedding.
I feel like walking out the door (too bad we live together) and calling it quits. I know I’m being over emotional but I need some advice. Has anyone had any experience like this? What would you do??
EDIT: Thanks for giving me perspective. I overreated about leaving him over this. I wouldn’t do that I love him very much. I am just very shocked and upset. I also want to apologize to anyone that might feel offended. I do not want anyone to feel like having debt is a terrible thing – I know I am very fortunate to have my school paid for. Thanks again for your advice bees
Post # 3
@neurosauer: First of all, breath. Yes, that is a lot of debt, but 1) it is considered a form of “good” debt because he is investing in his education and 2) he will have lots of time to pay it off.
Yes, he should have been more upfront with it, but is it possible he honestly didn’t realize how much it was until you forced him to really look at it? While I was very concious of my loans throughout college, my DH was less so during grad school. He expected to take out about $17k and ended up spending $28k. Unfortunately, it happens.
Are you seriously willing to walk out on an otherwise healthy (I am assuming) relationship over debt? It’s not like he racked up gambling debts. It’s student loans. You can still buy a house and have/support children within the next 5-10 years with student loans.
I would suggest having a very open conversation with him and perhaps devise a plan for how he can pay down the debt at a steady, efficient pace that will still allow you two to live a comfortable life.
ETA: Before you panic too much, it is possible to live a very comfortable life and move forward with student debt. Lots of people do it. So I wouldn’t go off the deep end and assume that you have to live paycheck to paycheck and can’t get married/buy a home/have children anytime soon. You will have to adjust your financially plans, but not necessarily in a drastic way. If necessary, he can apply for income adjusted loan payments. Which will come up with an affordable monthly payment. I would also encourage him to start paying now if possible, but at least before the 6 month deferment ends. That will help save on interest.
Post # 4
@neurosauer: Please don’t jump to the conclusion that he was lying about it. I didn’t realize how much I had in loans until my SO (now DH) made me actually sit down and look at it. I was just in denial and didn’t want to face facts. Was that irresponsible? Definitely! But I honestly didn’t know how much I had until he made me sit down and look at it.
I personally think you should stick with him. I can’t imagine leaving someone I’ve discussed marriage with because I find out he is further in debt than I previousy thought. Electrical engineers make a decent amount of money so I think you two should be able to pay it off in under 5 years if you manage money responsibly. I graduated with $40k and we are paying it off in 2.5 years thanks to a good budget. We could pay it off quicker due to our budgeting but we decided we would rather invest and create a decent savings account.
Sit down and create a budget. I have no idea what living expenses are like in Philadelphia but we by no means have to live terribly modestly to pay off my loans and I think that with both of you being EEs that you should be making more than we do.
Maybe I am biased about sticking with him as I am the one that brought loans into my relationship. I just don’t think it’s fair to hold it against him. You were very very lucky to have a parent pay for your education and not everyone has that luxury. However, if you think that he has a problem managing money, than I think that’s a different story…
Post # 5
Well, I only have about 36k in student loans so I can’t imagine what 90k would be like. And all my loans are federal. I went to community college for two years then went to state school.
I don’t know if this is an option since most of the loans seem to be private but can he do an income based or income contingent plan? That would make the monthly payments a lot more manageable. You could still get married, buy a house, have kids, etc. You could still have a life as long as the monthly payments are manageable.
If not…then I would just take a second job. Both you and your FI. I imagine that if you had somewhat low living expenses then the income from four jobs could help to considerably knock that 90k debt down.
I would stay with him, if I were you. When I was 19, I made some stupid decisions with a credit card and it’s still affecting me now at 26. But luckily, my credit card debt is almost gone. Just $1300 left and I will be credit card debt free! And the only debt I will have left is my car loan and my student loans.
My point is, yes your FI should have confessed sooner. But he made a mistake. I wouldn’t leave him over this. But then, I’m not you.
Post # 6
@neurosauer: I’d be emotional about something like that too. I think you need some time before you actually sit down and discuss a plan. I would be pissed off, but I can’t imagine leaving DH over that. I also can’t imagine him doing that too me.
If you stick it out, I think the budgeting situation is doable. Start by determining estimated take home pay, and minimum payments. There are options:
Do his money/your money completely
Live completely off of your salary and all of his can go to debt
Figure out a system for household joint stuff (50/50, 60/40, etc). The rest of his salary can go towards debt. If he wants extra spending money, he can have a side job.
There’s also lots of options in between these.
Post # 7
Student and medical debt are the only “acceptable” debts to me. It isn’t like he gambled away his money or owes money to the mob. This is something that is fixable. I was raised where you don’t throw out what you can fix — You can fix this, yes this is going to take sacrifice and hard work.
Are you willing to throw away a perfectly good relationship just because it’s going to get a little hard?
Student debts are not something that is “in your face” so I can definitely see how something could slip his mind.
Post # 8
I don’t really feel comfortable telling you what you should do about your relationship, I think that’s something only you can answer. But I can understand your fears about debt. I received a full tuition scholarship to a very expensive school but still had to take on some debt in order to cover room/board/transport/books etc. I thought I had about 20k in debt, which is quite a bit, but still manageable, but then found out it would be closer to 35k after I finished. I was incredibly upset for weeks and seriously considered leaving school to avoid taking on that amount, but in the end I got my degree and I am very happy that I did.
I’ve come to realize that debt is a part of life for most people. Even if I didn’t have student loan debt, I would buy a house and owe a mortgage or buy a car and have to pay that note. A very close family member of mine ended up in the hospital for weeks and ended up owing more than twice what I do, with future debt to come because of the nature of her illness. I now feel lucky that the only debt I have to speak of is from an investment I made in myself and my future.
With student loans you’re not as stuck as you may feel. You can take advantage of numerous payment plans. I, for example, chose a plan where my payment amounts would be in proportion to my income. That way I know my debt will never be overwhelming in case unfortunate circumstances appear. In the mean time me and FH are maintaining very good credit and the only debt we currently have is from student loans (which looks good in considering things like getting a mortgage). I don’t feel like my debt is overwhelming anymore, and it’s not getting in the way of things I want to do with my life. I’ve learned to accept it and live with it.
As far as your FI goes, if you choose to stay you are going to have to adjust your plans for the future but it doesn’t mean you can no longer do the things you had hoped to. It just means you have to do them in a different way. You just need to ask yourself if he’s worth it.
Post # 9
Student loans can be confusing and can really sneak up on you. Will your majors lead to good jobs. What is his interest rate? If they are at a decently low rate, why rush to pay them off? If you expect to both have good careers there is no shame in paying off debts in 20 or 30 years. Sometimes you can get a higher return on your investment by using your money to buy a house and keeping the debt.
I understand that you are upset that it is more than expected but it doesn’t seem like your bf was intentionally lying to you. You are lucky to have your college costs paid for but in all likelihood many people you meet will have student debt.
Post # 10
@bmo88: *sigh* No I wouldn’t leave him over this. I just wish I could disappear and pretend I didn’t have to face it. I guess I am under the assumption that because he made a mistake this big financially he wouldn’t be responsible about paying it off. It looks like I will have to guide him through this one.
@MrsBeck: I honestly don’t think he was lying about knowing 90k. I do think he was lying about more than 40, and he just didn’t want to think about it so he never checked. I feel like this might be an indicator of bad money managing (his parents were never good at it). I know this kind of thing can be “taught” but I’m worried it shows his priorities are in the wrong place.
@LadyBlackheart: I’m not too sure of the specifics. About half are federal and half are bank loans (citigroup?) loans. I think the interest rates only are able to change if you show that you can pay off more than the minimum but I really never needed to know about these things until now. I don’t think I’d be comfortable “saving” for big ticket items like kids or a house until we pay this off – which means everything will be on hold :/
@AB Bride: I know we can do it – but originally we had planned that my income would be going towards our “savings” and his would all go toward expenses. We wanted to budget based on his salary only because I wanted to not work when our future kids are young. Now I HAVE to work for many years to be able to afford that. I know it seems like a first world problem but I just hate that he doesn’t understand how much this affects our plans
Post # 11
@Hyperventilate: No I was being overdramtic, I do not think I would leave him over this unless he continually does irresponsible things like this. However, student debts ARE in his face all the time because everyone at my school complains about it and he’s always acted like they were being stupid by going to school they couldnt afford.. and guess where he is now 🙁
@chickspartan: Thank you for your response. I know some debt is normal I just feel like 90 k is usually something that takes FOREVER to pay off since you just add more every year.
@gingerbreadgirl: Based on his contacts and resume he will expect to make about 75k starting, me around 55k since I will be taking a gov job (which pays less than avg for EE). So Yes, it is a lot of money compared to most grads, however, I feel like most grads don’t have this much debt.
Post # 12
@neurosauer: You have reason to be very concerned about this. But try not to freak out on him saying this will ruin all your plans. You won’t actually have concrete plans until you are both out of school, in your jobs, have some idea about what his payments are going to be like and determine exactly how that all fits into the budget. There are TONS of ways to pay down debt and save money carefully to build the future you have in mind. I really like youneedabudget.com. It’s realistic and practical.
I have friends who get paid a lot less than you will likely be getting and have 100k in debt with undergrad and grad school. They are getting married, having babies, buying homes. You are going to be ok!
Out of curiosity, do you plan to stay in a city? I went to college in a big city and was SHOCKED at how affordable other parts of the country are. Moving to a smaller city saved us SO MUCH money.
Post # 13
@neurosauer: Honestly, I don’t think his student debt situation is a sign of poor financial management. How he handles it will be a better sign of how he makes financial decisions. Could he have avoided taking out as much as he did? I assume he would have had to attend another school (and consequently not met you possibly).
How you both tackle this is your decision clearly, but just keep in mind that many people deal with student debts on a daily basis and are able to live perfectly happy, normal lives.
Post # 14
@bmo88: Thinking your debt is 1/2 of what it is especially when it’s over 10k is something I would put into the irresponsible category, so I’m with the OP on that one.
That said though, I helped DH pay off his student debt within days of it accruing interest. It wasn’t huge, but between the two of us we don’t recall what it is, and we now update our networth every month. In 20 years, it won’t matter as long as he learns financial skills.
Post # 15
@AB Bride: Perhaps, but we don’t know the whole situation. 1) He may not have been closely monitoring it (which is to some extent irresponsible, but if it was necessary, he may not have thought it mattered) and 2) he may not have been as forthright about the info depending on how his partner (i.e., OP) typically responds to these kind of situations.
Either way, yes, it could have been avoided, but I don’t think this is a certain sign of someone making poor financial decisions for the rest of their life. Like I said before, if he chose to go to that school, it is possible he could not have avoided taking out that much in student debt. So yes, he could have chose another school, but that is entirely a different discussion.
Post # 16
@kenziemt: Thank you for your response. We are moving to my hometown in the Baltimore/DC area. Cost of living in Md is high but not totally out there. There are cheaper options. I know people do it all the time.. but no one in either of our families have. I have a close friend who is 26 and lives at home still because she had 50k in debt and can’t get out of the ditch. This type of thing terrifies me 🙁 It only takes one more slip up
@bmo88: He could have got to not a private school. I know – that means we wouldn’t have met. Still. He could have gone to school for FREE if he went to PSU and lived at home like his brother. Our school isn’t the best ever, its got a good name but really only worth it if you’re in my situation (meaning little to no debt from it). He is blaming his parents for not warning him and I get where he’s coming from but still.. he signed the paperwork, he’s heard all the horror stories, etc