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To have and to hold a diploma

Marriage can greatly impact the college experience for students

marriage article photo

ASU sophomore Ivette Jimenez, who was recently married, shows off her ring as she looks over an assignment at a Starbucks in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. 

For many, college is a time of adjustments. Whether it be heightened sense of self or accountability, college deals out all new grades, pressures and social interactions. However, some choose to add another element to their college experience: marriage. 

According to a 2017 ReportLinker survey of over 550 participants, only 6 percent reported meeting their significant other through school.

For psychologist Vincent Berger, the reasoning behind entering relationships, especially in college, is clear: people were not built to be alone. 

“For some people, getting married in college may even lower the amount of stress they have," Berger said. "They don’t have to deal with the stress of traditional dating. They always have someone to go to."

However, he said that while some may find comfort in their new relationship status, other couples may find that their relationship was best suited in a university setting.

“The problem is that you aren’t in the working world, and college is a very artificial way of living. Some couples may be fine in college but get into the real world and suddenly the draw you had simply isn’t there anymore,” he said. 

 According to a working paper using estimates from the American Community Survey, college age students are getting married less than previous generations, and surveys have found that this is due, largely in part, to a need for financial security.

According to census data, the average age of marriage is increasing as time passes, with the 2017 median age of women getting married being around 27-years-old and the median age for men being around 29-years-old. 

For Ivette Jimenez, a sophomore tourism development and management major who recently got married, marriage was the natural next step in her relationship. After meeting her husband through work, the two decided to forgo an engagement and wedding and got their marriage license on Aug. 9, 2018. 

“For me personally, I think it helped to have someone with the same goals," Jimenez said. "That was one of the reasons why I married him, and after we got married it was like ‘our next step,’ and none of our plans were ‘you’ or ‘me’ anymore. I think that’s been one of the biggest and best changes.” 

Marriage and engagement in college comes with great personal and financial adjustments. According to Claudia Ramirez, an academic advisor at the Downtown Phoenix campus, everything from financial aid to housing can change with marriage. 

“I’ve never heard of ASU directly providing housing for families or married couples, so they often commute from their own shared home. I know it also affects the FAFSA and financial aid because the government counts your income as combined income, which means that you often have to pay more back in taxes,” Ramirez said. 

However, for some couples, marriage is worth the potential downfalls. Kristina Tronstad, a senior majoring in early childhood and early childhood special education, got married to her high school sweetheart in January.  

"We're lucky that we we're both blessed on the financial side, and we wanted to make sure that everything would work out on that front," Tronstad said. "Above anything else though, our biggest focus is finding time for both our relationship and our education because we're both busy with school and clubs." 

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