The marriage market in North India has a new condition for brides-to-be – no education loan.
Shashikant (name changed), an advocate in the Allahabad High Court, was a trifle surprised when he was advised by his close friends not to play up the education loan taken for his daughter’s degree in dentistry while looking for a groom for her. But that’s how things are in the marriage market these days. Not only is a bride expected to be fair, convent-educated, English speaking and homely, she also has to be loan free. With parents increasingly turning to education loans to fund their children’s education, prospective in-laws are keen to know whether the bahu-to-be comes with the burden of paying off an education loan since an education loan has to be paid off by the student. So marriage alliances are dependent on the status of loan repayment – pay it off before tying the knot is the new demand coming from grooms’ families.
Sangeeta Bhattacharya, a graduate from Banaras Hindu University took an education loan to pursue her MBA from Pune. After the completion of her course, when her parents began looking for a match for her, questions about her education loan would invariably always crop up. “Almost all the guys would ask me about the status of the education loan. I was not offended since I believe that there should be transparency in matters of marriage,” she says.
Admitting to this trend is Kiran Chawla, who runs a franchise of a marriage bureau. “Education loans are figuring prominently in fixing matrimonial alliances these days. The most common query that comes from the boy’s family is whether an education loan has been taken by the girl or not and the clearing of the loan is the primary condition for a match to be arranged. The prospective in-laws are not ready to take the risk of paying the loan if it is still unpaid," she says. “While a well-educated girl is still sought after, that demand comes with a no-debt rider,” according to Chawla.
Let this be a lesson to students everywhere before you sign off on that student loan. Unless you want to die alone and penniless with your degree as your only accomplishment in life, think twice about how much money you will be able to pay back and how much you think your future spouse will tolerate. No one wants to marry - or have their son or daughter marry - into a situation where they are responsible for paying thousands of dollars in non-dischargeable debt.