Financial Advice

How Do I Get My Mom Off My Student Loan as Cosigner? – Kimberly

Question:

Dear Steve,

I was a kid and my mother co-signed a loan through Sallie Mae in 2003 for $12,000. Here we are in 2016, mom’s been paying the interest and the loan is now $20,000. How is that possible? Isn’t there some law they are breaking?

They won’t release my mom as a co-signer and I won’t defer my loans while I’m attending grad school. Plus I’m about to be laid off. I’m a single mom and stressing out!

Why is my loan so much more when we’ve been paying interest and what can I do, are there ANY options? Can I file bankruptcy without it affecting my mother?

Please help.

Kimberly

Answer:

Dear Kimberly,

I’m assuming this is a private student loan. If it was a federal student loan

Well there are two logical reason the balance could be higher. The first could be that the loan was in default at some time. The second could be that the loan servicer put you on some sort of reduced payment plan that never covered the full interest and you’ve been slipping underwater water this whole time. I see that a lot. Typically this happens when people fall for the deferment or forbearance offers.

The first thing you should do is ask the student loan company for a complete accounting of how your balance got to be what it is today. You are entitled to that information. If they won’t give it to you then consider hiring a consumer attorney to represent you. One place to find such an attorney is at ConsumerAdvocates.org.

Since your mother cosigned the student loans she agreed to be 100 percent responsible for the loans if you did not pay. If you default they will go after her for payment because that is what she agreed to. Cosigners often agree to sign to help out a friend or loved one and don’t realize they are agreeing to be financially responsible for the loan.

You can always ask the lender for their current process to remove cosigners. Here is the Sallie Mae cosigner release process. If the lender will not release her there is nothing you can do about it. One option to break her free would be for her to file bankruptcy and terminate her liability to the debt but that’s probably something she doesn’t want to do. Besides, some courts have ruled that as a cosigner she is blocked from a discharge unless the loan creates an undue hardship.

With your mom on the loan as a cosigner there is nothing you can do regarding bankruptcy that won’t impact her. The bankruptcy on that loan will be reflected on her credit report as a cosigner. The lender will just go after your mom for payment and without some underlying cause the loan will not simply be eliminated.

In situations like this the easiest solutions are to either get a new loan where your mother is not a cosigner and payoff the old loan, or ask your mom to start making the full regular payment that will reduce the balance. This way she will not be chased for the debt, the balance will go down, and it won’t hurt her credit.

As a final Hail Mary, you could always file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the lender will not be able to collect from your mom during your bankruptcy case which might run as long as five years. However, when the case is over you’ll be back in the same spot.

For anything in the bankruptcy option arena you will need to discuss this with a bankruptcy attorney who is licensed in your state.

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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