The Dangers of Co-Signing a Student Loan

May 3, 2018 Posted by kingcade

It has become common practice for parents of high school students looking to enter college in the fall to co-sign or take out private loans to help their children afford the costs associated with a higher education. Many times, the scholarships (if available to the student) have already been maximized, and the financial aid offered through federal loans simply is not enough to cover the complete costs of college.  However, according to a recent study taking on a private loan or co-signing on one to help a child go to college can seriously hurt the parent later when it comes to retirement.

Most private student loans require a co-signer since most high school students do not graduate with well-established credit. Parents will often jump to co-sign, not even thinking of the potential consequences.

“It’s portrayed to them as if they’re going to simply be a reference or endorser, when the truth is they‘ll be obligated to pay this loan if something happens and the primary borrower can’t pay,” said Seth Frotman, Student Loan Ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). “We now see more and more cosigners going into retirement facing unprecedented levels of student debt.”

According to a survey released by the website LendEDU, a site that specializes in student loan refinancing and private student loan borrowing, of the 500 parents who co-signed on their children’s loans, one-third of them did not fully understand the consequences of co-signing. Out of that number, 35 percent of them later said they regretted doing it. More than half of them said their credit scores took a hit after co-signing. More than one-third of them said that the lower credit scores later hurt their chances of qualifying for any financing in the future.

The parent’s credit can be negatively affected if the child later misses payments or fails to pay the loan on time. The survey also showed that more than one-third of the parents picked up the loan payments for their children.

However, what happens if the parent is unaware their child is keeping up on the loan payments? Many cosigners are not informed of the status of their co-signed loans until it is too late- many times to the point where interest had accumulated and fees had been assessed.  The survey also showed that more than half of the parents worried that their child’s student loan debt would jeopardize their retirement plans.

Every student is different, and while some may naturally be responsible, get a job straight out of college and make payments on the loans without any issue, many students fail to understand the responsibility of paying back these loans and are not so fortunate with their job prospects upon graduation.

One option available is a Tuition Installment Plan (TIP). Through a TIP program, the college may divide tuition into equal monthly payments with no interest added. If the parent or child can afford it, this avoids making one lump sum payment and avoids taking out the additional private loan to cover costs. However, look into whether the student’s specific college offers this option.

We have written previous blog postings on the dangers of co-signing a loan – which puts more than your name on the line.  If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to contact our firm.

There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  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 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at

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