More than 42 million Americans face student loan debt. Although it’s not uncommon, it can still feel isolating — and frustrating. Even well-intentioned remarks from friends, colleagues or loved ones can come across as insensitive or downright offensive.
If someone in your life is still struggling with student debt, here are five things they’ll hate hearing.
1. ‘You’re being a bad friend.’
To prioritize paying off their student loans, your friend may have to turn down some birthday parties, miss a few reunions and even skip a few weddings along the way.
It’s easy to criticize others for missing those moments, but try to sympathize with how hard it can be to balance repayment with expensive parties and traveling. Let them make the decisions that feel right for them and perhaps encourage them to find free or inexpensive ways to show people they care. Handwritten cards and phone calls can go a long way.
2. ‘Would you like to donate to the university?’
Almost every alum has probably gotten a call like this (or several) from someone at their alma mater. It may start off innocently, with a current student providing updates about the university, but then comes the dreaded donation request.
If someone still owes tens of thousands of dollars for student loans, chances are they won’t want to be asked to give back just yet. In fact, don’t be surprised if they hang up immediately.
3. ‘You knew what you were getting into when you got those loans.’
Cutting back on spending to make hefty monthly student loan repayments may be responsible, but it can be far from easy, especially for new graduates who want to enjoy their post-college years. Instead of taking a condescending tone with friends and family members who are struggling with student debt, praise their financially responsible decisions and show your support.
4. ‘Why didn’t you just get a job during college?’
This question implies that if someone had worked multiple jobs throughout school, he or she could have paid for tuition and avoided debt. Although many students do choose to take on paid internships and part-time work, it’s not practical for everyone, and many jobs available to college students barely scratch the surface in terms of covering tuition.
5. ‘Did you really need to take out that much?’
The average debt for business school is around $75,000, and the average medical school debt hovers close to $200,000. Many simply can’t afford to pay for school without taking out large student loans. It’s necessary to pursue a career in their chosen field.