Many people rack up a sizable amount of debt in the course of obtaining a degree. If you’re thinking of taking on a mountain of student loans, you may not realize just how much that decision will impact you down the line. Here are a few major milestones you may be forced to delay if your level of debt is excessive. 

1. Buying a home

High levels of student debt can make homeownership difficult for a few reasons. First, if your earnings are monopolized by loan payments, you might struggle to save up for a down payment. Additionally, if you have too much outstanding student debt, you might struggle to get approved for a mortgage. And then, even if you do manage to snag a home loan, you might find it next to impossible to pay your mortgage and make your loan payments simultaneously. 

2. Getting married

Getting married is an expensive prospect. If you’re forced to spend a large chunk of your earnings on student loan payments each month, it could be tough to save enough money to pay for a wedding. Furthermore, you might choose to delay marriage so as not to start a life with someone while you’re still weighed down by debt. 

3. Having a child

Children cost a lot of money, and the infant stage can be particularly expensive, especially when you account for expenses like child care, diapers, and clothing (which babies tend to grow out of rapidly). If you’re saddled with student debt, you may not feel comfortable adding those expenses to the mix until your loans are done with. Or, you may want to take time out of the workforce to raise a child, which may not be possible with a high loan balance hanging over your head.

4. Retiring on time -- or at all

Some people rack up student debt later in life, such as parents who take out loans on their children’s behalf. If you go this route, the money that is going toward student loan payments may mean you neglect your nest egg, which may force you to delay your retirement. And if your savings really suffer to an extreme, you may not manage to retire at all. 

Keeping your student debt to a minimum

If you’d rather not risk having to delay major life goals because of your student debt, then you’ll need to keep it as low as possible. A good way to do so is to limit yourself to federal student loans, which typically charge far less interest than private student loans. You can also make your studies more affordable by opting for a community or in-state public college instead of studying out of state or attending a private university. Working during college will also give you the option to pay more of your tuition as you go, thereby lessening your need for debt. 

No matter what strategy you employ for minimizing your student debt, be sure to understand the consequences of having too much of it. It may not seem like a big deal when you’re younger and gearing up for college, and it may even seem doable when you’re desperate to help your children fund their studies, but in the long run, taking on too much student debt is a move you’ll likely regret.