This story really bothers me. I’ve seen some headlines for it that say the woman “inherited” her son’s student loan debt. In every article I’ve seen about this story the woman is made out to be a victim. She is clearly a victim of circumstance, and perhaps some cosmic bad luck. But I don’t believe she is the victim of any kind malice or fraud, or of some evil corporation.
From what I can tell from the story, the woman was not unfairly coerced into applying for and co-signing for this loan. And I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that First Marblehead Corp. lied to the woman or misrepresented the facts. If that turns out to be true then that’s a different story. But again, I don’t think that’s what happened here.
The woman co-signed for the loan and I believe that makes her legally as well as morally responsible for repaying it.
>> “Nobody told me when I co-signed the loan that I would be forced to pay them back even if my son died.”
I find that quote particularly worrisome. Did she really as an adult not understand what it meant to co-sign a loan? If not, I’d very very interested in what she thinks that her signature was for and meant?
I understand that this woman (and of course her son) was dealt a bad hand. But it’s a mistake to make the lender out to be the bad guy here. They have every right to collect on their loan (again, assuming no fraud or misrepresentation). As for the petitioners at change.org, a much more proper use of their time and effort would be to pass the virtual cup among themselves and help this woman pay off her debt.
Ella Edwards, Mother, Asks Bank To Forgive Dead Son’s College Loan In Online Petition: BOSTON, Nov 28 – The mother of a Detroit-area college student who died in 2009 has launched an online petition asking lender First Marblehead Corp to forgive a $10,000 student loan taken on by her son that she says she cannot repay. Ella Edwards, a 61-year-old woman working part-time as a seamstress, has garnered some 191,000 signatures for her online petition on the website Change.org. “I am trying to pay off Jermaine’s loan, but I simply don’t have the money – and because of my crushing depression, I am barely able to work at all,” Edwards said in her online petition. “Nobody told me when I co-signed the loan that I would be forced to pay them back even if my son died.” Her son, Jermaine, died suddenly in 2009 at the age of 24 after studying music production at colleges in Florida and Michigan, officials with Change.org said. No cause of death was given. Edwards said he left a 2-year-old son.
“Nearly all student loans—93% of them last year—are made directly by the government, which asks little or nothing about borrowers’ ability to repay, or about what sort of education they intend to pursue.”