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The NY Times posted an article in February about a recent trend among college students: getting married to save money on college tuition. It has sparked a heated debate that is still continuing four months later on a number of web sites. The most common objections to this practice are the trampling of the sanctity of marriage, and the loss of ethics. Despite the public interest in debating this topic, it is difficult to find people who are willing to openly discuss their own “paper marriages”.
The people interviewed in the NY Times article refused to be named, and it is for more than simply legal reasons. This article focuses on the legal and ethic ramifications of getting married for lowered tuition, but it ignores the emotions that are often involved in a situation such as this. Different expectations between the bride and groom, family expectations, and criticism from everyone from your friends to your coworkers can make this personal decision fodder for public gossip.
More than just enduring criticism from those around you, there are also the emotional ramifications. Unless you follow the advice of Rick Conley from whypaytuition.com by marrying a complete stranger and securing a prenup that costs thousands of dollars, there is always the danger of someone developing feelings of love or higher expectations than the other. Sure you saved $30,000 in tuition, but now your convenient money-saving technique has backfired. Your friend decides to fall in love with you, while you want to end the marriage as soon as you have your diploma. Even if it is only for financial reasons, getting married is a huge decision, and all possible repercussions should be considered before making this life-changing choice.
As someone who has done it, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, and a lot of unexpected things can happen.
Step back to the summer of 2007. After having to get a high interest loan from a private company to pay for my sophomore year of school, I complained to my ex-boyfriend that unless I got married or had a baby, I was going to end up paying a lot more in school loans than I wanted to. That’s when he suggested that I just go down with him to Las Vegas that winter while he saw his dad for a quick forty dollar ceremony. I wouldn’t even have to tell anyone about it. I agreed and we began to make plans for our winter excursion.
Then in October we got back together, I told my parents about us getting married, and things began to get complicated. My parents pushed for a real ceremony, even though they really wanted me to change my mind. I had started to want a real relationship and a real wedding since we had gotten back together, so I ended up agreeing to the ceremony. My groom dealt with this unpleasant surprise by limiting the guest list to as few people as possible. We spent about $200 total for everything, and got married with about 30 people in attendance.
We stayed with my mother-in-law for the first few months, and then moved into a cheap apartment. The first year we were married was hard on both of us. I wanted our marriage to be real, while he wasn’t ready to commit to staying together. It created a huge discord between us, resulting in tears and hurt feelings. It was only after I learned to not take things so personally, and he decided he really wanted to stay that our marriage began to get better. We were finally together for more than just money or convenience. It was for us, and it was for love.
For all of the pains that we endured, I only ended up getting one $2,000 grant that first year. Because my husband was working full-time at a place that paid $10 an hour, and I was working part-time at Walmart, our income was too high every year after that. If anyone decides to take the plunge and get married, whether it is because you are madly in love with each other, or because you want to get that coveted in-state tuition, make sure to think it over very thoroughly. If you don’t the results could be disastrous.