Saturday, May 22, 2010

Arranged Marriages Take Education Loans Into Consideration

This Times of India article made me laugh because so many of our readers have told us about their concerns with finding a mate or burdening their spouse with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. Well, apparently we're not the only ones who worry about loans ruining our love life. Women in North India who have taken out education loans for an advanced degree are having issues finding a suitor who wants the responsibility of assisting in the payback of those loans.

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.


  1. This is interesting.

    Sorry for my lack of worldly knowledge. (or, I guess my corruption in believing things like the Simpsons and Disney cartoons.) It was always my understanding that arranged marriages occurred way BEFORE a person reaches adulthood. As in, when these people are little kids. It never made sense to me because what if one of the kids gets hurt in an accident or some such thing. *knock on wood*

    But yea, to arrange a marriage after a person is an adult? I've never heard of such a thing.

    Arranged marriages have always taken finances into account. If it's not random European nobles trying to unite territories, it's Asians trying to unite business interests.

  2. I think arranged marriages in young adulthood are the norm now, especially for upper class families who expect their sons and daughters to attend college. Arranged marriages have also become more "liberal" with semi-arranged marriages through family and friends as an option. I don't know a lot about the subject, but the women I met in school from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East were usually single or had a boyfriend. They were expected to find someone to marry when they return home, either through family and friends, but none of them were being forced to marry someone chosen by their parents. I'm assuming arranged marriages during childhood are still common in more traditional and lower income families where daughters aren't expected to attend college.

  3. ^Arranged marriages were always liberal in choice. A partner is not selected by the parents/relatives/family friends but rather the potential couple are recommended and are essentially "set up" with each other. They meet and get to know each other, and then decide if they want to go ahead with marriage. If they don't, more potential suitors are found.

    From my experience, this usually happens in the early to mid 20s. I had a suitemate in college that was engaged his final year and married about a year or two after graduation. I have quite a few friends from the India region, China and Japan, and so I have a pretty good base to comment from.

    An interesting note to this however is that the vast majority of these seem to be a male with a foreign (from those countries) woman or a very traditional woman in the US.

    For the most part, if the woman is Americanized, she will not go through with this and will instead marry a man she has dated (from my experience, I'd say about 75% of the time minimum it is a white male). I have also seen the same with Americanized males, but it has always been an Asian female in my experience, and as I stated, it has been rarer.

    I am commenting only on arranged marriages in the US, although what I've read it is the same at least in Japan.

    Regardless, to put my lawyer hat back on again, hiding student loan information looks like fraud to me and should entitle either partner to an annulment. However, considering the fraud perpetrated by law schools on a continuing basis, I suppose it'd just be considered a "special case" because student loans are something that just have to be paid off no matter what and otherwise don't follow any normal rules.

  4. What's a marriage bureau? Do they have them here?



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