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New Jersey pursues co-signers for dead students’ loans

It seems unfathomable. A New Jersey mother who was the parent of a murdered son received correspondence from the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. While the letter began by offering her condolence on the loss of her son, it continued:

“After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”

According to the New York Times, HESAA fully intends to hold the grieving parent responsible for the loans for which she co-signed for her son to be able to matriculate at the University of Vermont. In fact, she has been forced to cough up $180 every month for the last year and a half, with 92 installments left on the loan for her dead son’s education.

New Jersey’s state-administered student loan program is supposed to assist students with getting a degree to better qualify them for the job market where even a college degree may not be enough in a tight economy. But unlike many other states, New Jersey makes it especially onerous to shed responsibility for these monthly loan notes even when the individuals are living in extreme poverty, are severely ill, or in the case of the New Jersey mom, when the student has died but a family member co-signed the loan.

The Times reported that student loans that were administered by New Jersey’s HESAA were at a higher risk of being pursued for payment by anyone, despite their difficult circumstances.

One man survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, only to be laid off by his company later. While the federal government offered debt relief in the form of suspended student loan payments, the state of New Jersey elected to sue him. He learned that the tax refund check he was awaiting from the state would not be forthcoming because of his debt.

At present, the agency tasked with collecting on these loans has nearly $2 billion worth of outstanding student loan debt. While a bankruptcy filing will not wipe out student loans, it can give a debtor enough financial breathing room to make a fresh fiscal start and be able to once again afford to make one’s monthly payments.

Source: Raw Story, “N.J. forces mom to pay son’s student loans: Murder ‘does not meet threshold for loan forgiveness’,” Tom Boggioni, July 03, 2016

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