Student Loans Are A Dealbreaker Survey


68% of Americans Say Student Loans Are a Dealbreaker

Karen Belz

Written by: Karen Belz

Karen Belz

Over the last 10 years, Karen Belz has written for dating and lifestyle sites such as Zoosk, Bolde, and Elite Singles. She started her career as a professional writer by helping launch HelloGiggles in 2011. Karen graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Broadcasting with a minor in Print Media Studies. She is now happily married and believes that healthy communication is the key to all successful relationships. You can follow her on Threads @karenbelz.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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It’s fairly common for a young professional to be saddled with student loans. But do those loans have an impact on more than just a person’s financial outlook? Could it impair their dating prospects as well? The answers to those questions may very well be red flags for some daters who want to feel financially secure in their relationships.

DatingAdvice conducted a survey to determine how student loans can factor into dating decisions at the beginnings of a new relationship. We asked singles if they’d consider student loans to be a dating dealbreaker, and the results are a bit surprising. We’ll break down the numbers in this article to shed light on how finances influence dating.

DatingAdvice Polled 1,036 American Adults for Their Opinions

First, let’s review some information about who took the survey. A solid 12.5% of survey respondents said they were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 19% fell between the ages of 25 and 34. Another 19.4% identified as being between 35 and 44, while 13.1% said they were between the ages of 45 and 54, and 15.9% ranged in age between 55 and 64. Finally, 20.1% of those polled said they were 65 and older. 

Most survey respondents said they’re prefer not to date a person with student loans.

More than half of participants (51.7%) identified as married or in a domestic partnership, 4.7% said they’re currently engaged, 7.1% are widowed, 10.2% are divorced, 2.3% are separated, and 23% are single and have never been married. The study participants come from a wide range of backgrounds regarding relationships, but the majority are married folks.

The survey showcases different perspectives on finances and debt as well as how money factors into a romantic relationship.

Student Loan Debt Can Diminish a Person’s Date Prospects

Having any amount of student debt is a dealbreaker for many people. Only 31.3% of those polled said they’d enter a relationship with someone who has student loans that have yet to be paid off. While every relationship is different, student loan debt seems to hinder romantic progress.

Student loans can be predatory in nature, so they’re not necessarily a fault in a person’s character or a prediction of their future. Still, the appearance of debt can make daters feel nervous and wonder if their priorities are aligned with that person.

Photo of saving money
Debt is a real dating dealbreaker impacting singles in today’s financial climate.

Ignoring student debts and having a plan for them, however, are two different methods of approach. “While you aren’t personally liable for student loans your future spouse brings into the marriage, ignoring the five or six-figure debt while dreaming about the life you want to build together isn’t wise,” suggests Wealthfit. “Want to avoid feeling like you’re marrying your partner and their debt? Get ahead of it. Before you say, ‘I do,’ work together to devise a strategy for making the student loan payments.”

How much is too much student debt? Even $5,000 to $10,000 is a dealbreaker for 16.4% of survey takers. That said, if the partner seems to have other redeeming qualities — including a way to navigate through that debt after settling down — many of the polled participants said that’s enough to move forward with the relationship. Individuals can offer much more to a partnership outside of money.

The survey data shows that 13.9% of respondents said the limit of how much in student loans they are willing to accept from a partner is $40,000, and 31.5% of participants said that “No amount is too much if it’s true love”.

Debt won’t be as big of a factor as you may think if you have a true connection with someone. Couples who are the strongest tend to have no issues with communicating about big issues ranging from finances to family planning. 

A partner who values themself and their relationship will be open to discussing their student loans and make plans to attack the debt together. That doesn’t mean that you should help them repay it, but it does mean that you should be involved in their plan to eliminate it.

A Good Match May Overcome a Dealbreaker 

While these statistics are eye-opening, people are more than the sum of their debt. Getting to know someone and falling in love means seeing them for who they are as a person, and not just how much they owe. 

The topic of student loans may come up on the first date or in the first few weeks of getting to know a person, and that’s when a dater needs to pay attention to how the subject is handled. If your date seems to be uncomfortable with the topic of money, things likely won’t progress in a healthy way. 

Our survey revealed another surprising statistic about love and money: 53.8% of respondents said they’d date someone currently unemployed. Layoffs have unfortunately become a common scenario in the post-COVID era, especially in the United States and Europe, the term “unemployed” may carry less of a stigma nowadays. 

A surprising 38.4% agreed that love doesn’t have a time limit, even when it comes to unemployment.

As time goes on, good jobs that can support a family, regardless of size, can be harder to find, even with the right credentials. Location often is a big factor when it comes to job availability and progression. 

Survey respondents were also asked how long they’d wait for a romantic partner to get a job before ending the relationship. And respondents seemed rather patient. A surprising 38.4% stated that “love doesn’t have a time limit,” even when it comes to unemployment. These individuals indicated that the right partner would still have their love and respect. Another 43% of respondents said they’d give their partner between six months and a year before reevaluating the relationship. 

If student debt is a dating dealbreaker for you, consider reevaluating your feelings before going into the dating pool. Statistics from the Federal Reserve of New York shows that 43.5 million Americans are currently faced with student loan debt. The average amount taken out to pay for college was over $37,000. That said, for some people, knowing that debt won’t be a hindrance to the future of a relationship is important.

People often take on student loans to help achieve their dream job. But if those loans are higher than someone’s salary, they can end up causing more issues. Having student loan debt may cause someone to struggle when it comes to moving around in the workforce, buying a house, and settling down.  People may accept a higher-paying job to help pay off the loans instead of the job that satisfies them and makes them happiest. 

Many students may not have understood the terms of their loans when signing and thought that they’d be easy to pay off once they joined the workforce. Sometimes, it’s not about the debt as much as the situation, and that should be considered when moving forward with someone new.

Finances Aren’t Everything in Relationship Compatibility

Finances are important when it comes to a new relationship, but they aren’t everything. A variety of other factors can influence how daters view issues such as student loans and other types of debts. Is your potential partner quick to think up a solution when difficulties arise, or do they refuse to take action and make the problem worse? Understanding how they would tackle a situation like a student will help you figure out whether your relationship has the strength to conquer other issues that might arise. 

How a potential love interest deals with their debts may also show you how they deal with losing a job, or if things get difficult when trying to start a family. Some people will fight for what they want, while others may give up and hope the problem takes care of itself. Attitude and dedication both go a long way when it comes to trying to figure out if a relationship is worth pursuing. 

Daters need to factor in how a partner makes them feel. If the two of you have chemistry and seem to work like a team, you’ll likely have an easier time together as a couple when things get rocky or complicated. You need to find someone willing to help the relationship thrive, and not someone who is interested in their own needs within the relationship. Finding someone who proves to be an ideal partner will make financial issues easier to navigate.