Losing their 27-year old daughter, Lisa, to liver failure was devastating enough, but then the student loan bills started coming. Steve Mason and his wife Darnell immediately took in their daughter’s three children- ages 4, 7 and 9 following her death. The family had co-signed on $100,000 in private student loans that his daughter took out for nursing school. Unable to keep up with the payments and mounting expenses, the $100,000 debt ballooned to $200,000 as a result of late fees and interest rates as high as 12%.
Steve called the lenders to explain he could not afford the $2,000 a month payments, but unfortunately private lenders are not bound by any federal requirements to help borrowers or co-signers. Loan forgiveness is up to the discretion of the individual lender. Navient Corp., which manages several of the loans said they reduced the balance owed to $27,000 from nearly $35,000 and lowered the interest rate to 0% on three of four loans. The family was less fortunate with American Education Services, which handled the bulk of Lisa’s student loans. The lender refused to provide the family with any relief.
Dreams for retirement have been shattered for the Masons. The family has considered filing bankruptcy, but student loans are the only type of debt that generally cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Legislation aiming to help families in similar situations, including recent bills that would allow student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy, have been introduced over the years but have yet to pass in Congress.
“People with other debt from splurging — they can discharge that,” Mason said. “Student loans should really be the one type of debt they do discharge because it’s done to further an education and career. But somehow getting [my daughter] an education has encumbered me for the rest of my life.”
The Masons are not alone. Similar financial nightmares are facing families throughout the country. For now, the only option parents have is to negotiate a payment plan with the lender or try to prove undue financial hardship to the courts in order to get the debts discharged in bankruptcy.
For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.