College is more expensive than it’s ever been, so it’s not surprising why thousands of college graduates are still struggling with student loan debt years after finishing school. But according to a new report, the problem of exorbitant student debt has gotten so bad that it is now causing marriages to end in divorce.
While financial problems have long been identified as a primary cause of failed marriages, a report by Student Loan Hero is perhaps the first to pin marital distress on student loan debt—a problem most commonly associated with the Millennial generation.
The report states that 13 percent of divorced borrowers blamed their student loan debt for the failure of the marriage.
Unfortunately, this trend may only become more prevalent in the years to come.
How Bad is the Student Loan Problem?
It’s estimated that more than 44 million Americans carry the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, contributing to an incredible national total of $1.5 trillion. But not only has the percentage of students borrowing money for college increased over the last 10 years, the amounts they’re borrowing have also grown steadily in recent years. The Student Loan Hero report points out that graduates from the class of 2017 were saddled with an average of $39,400 in student loan debt.
It’s no surprise why many couples feel they’re being held back by this amount of debt, as it can affect their financial and lifestyle decisions, such as when they can get a home or when they should have kids.
Student Debt Affecting Family Decisions
And true enough, millennials are taking longer to buy homes and get married because they want to be financially secure first—a feat easier said than done when you have a small mountain of debt nagging at you.
A New York Times survey published in July this year also found that of the respondents who said they didn’t want children or felt unsure about having children, 13 percent blamed it on having too much student debt. And of those who had or expected to have fewer children than planned, almost 50 percent said it was because of financial pressure/instability.
The results of the Student Loan Hero study echo those of the Times survey, indicating that 46 of respondents took their time to start a family because of student loans. In addition, one-fourth of the respondents admitted to keeping their student loan debt a secret from their partners, while 36 percent said they lied about it.
The problem of student loans and its effect on divorces needs to be further established, but one thing is clear—it has exacerbated the financial and marital issues that many couples around the country have long faced.