Revealing to a loved one that you have tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt is a massive hurdle in any relationship. On the one hand, you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not like you cheated or ran up debt gambling.
However, it is still a life-altering debt. Your ability to buy a home, raise children, and even retire, can be affected. As a result, sharing this very personal information is essential.
When to share your student debt story
There is no rule of thumb on something like this, and it depends upon the relationship.
If you feel like you are actively hiding the fact that you have a mountain of student loan debt, the time to share the information has arrived.
If you and your loved one are actively planning for the future and discussing topics that would potentially be impacted by your student loans, it is probably time to share.
That being said, this isn’t information that needs to be disclosed right away. Student debt isn’t who you are, it doesn’t define you, and it doesn’t define your future.
In many ways, sharing student debt is like sharing your salary. It isn’t something that gets offered on a first date, but a relationship does reach a point where the information becomes pertinent.
How to share your student debt story
Perhaps more important than the time of sharing your student loans is how you do so.
When you offer this information, you want to be able to answer any questions that your boyfriend or girlfriend might have. To do this, you should have a solid understanding of how much you owe each month, how long it will take to pay off the debt, and options that you have at your disposal. If you are working towards public service student loan forgiveness, be ready to explain the program and how it works.
It is also important to understand how marriage can alter your student loan plans. For example, some federal repayment plans require you to include a spouse’s income when determining how much you owe each month, while others do not if you file your taxes separately.
Having a plan in place for your debt shows that you have things under control, and it can make processing this information much more manageable.
Bottom Line: Don’t be afraid to talk about student loans
You already know the impact that student loans have on your life. If you are planning a future with someone, they deserve to know the impact that student loans might have on their life.
With over 40 million Americans dealing with student loans, there is a very real possibility that your significant other may also be facing a similar mountain of debt.