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Marriage amidst the books

As national divorce rates for first marriages are hovering around 45 percent and Florida divorce rates are at 54 percent, according to the United States Census Bureau, it’s a wonder why some college students choose to add one more thing to their schedule by getting married.

“We initially wanted to wait (to get married) until I had graduated, but eventually our families and friends convinced us to go ahead, and I am glad they did,” said Erica Wold-Mims, a 23-year-old USF student.

Erica is married to 28-year-old Ted Mims, who graduated from USF in December.

They married last year, after being engaged for 18 months.Wold- Mims is not the only one choosing to marry young in the U.S. The United States Census Bureau states that 0.9 percent of males and 3.7 percent of females were married for the first time between the ages of 15 and 19 in the year 2001. Between the ages of 20 and 24, 16.1 percent of males and 27.6 percent of females took the plunge.

After Ted asked for Erica’s hand in marriage, her father gave his permission under one condition: She had to continue school.

The expenses don’t stop school and wedding budgets, however.

“The bigger financial strain (compared to college and wedding expenses) was buying a house. Luckily our parents have helped out a lot,” Wold-Mims said.

Thomas Ragulsky of the loan departmen at the USF Federal Credit Union said anyone who has “enough income and their credit checks out, they should be approved for a loan.”

Being young and married will not hinder your chances of getting a loan, although not many young, married couples apply for them.

USF has a family housing option in the Magnolia Apartments for those who chose to own a home later. Charles Lowman, the Magnolia community Manager, said approximately 20 married students live in the apartments.

As the statistics show, being married at a young age is not the route many college students take. Some want to hold off commitment until they have attained a degree, while others want to experience college unattached to someone.

“I wouldn’t recommend marriage to lots of people, (even those) not in college. It is possibly the hardest choice you’ll ever make, and at the same time it is one of the easiest,” Wold-Mims said.

USF offers religious resources for those preparing to get married.

“If people come to us with issues (like preparing for marriage), we can refer them a local rabbi,” said Nicky Spivak, executive director of Hillel Jewish Student Center.

Spivak also noted that they do not have clergy on staff.

Christian Challenge Ministries Director Mark Lydecker offered the same sentiment. Couples seeking premarital counseling are referred to a local church.

“That is where the ceremony will be held anyway,” said Lydecker.While it’s certainly not something the majority of college students choose to do, there are some who make it work despite their young age.