My Wife is Getting Garnished for a Federal Student Loan She Cosigned For 23 Years Ago. – Robby

My wife was married to her ex at the age of 20. It only lasted a year, but during that year she cosigned the joker’s student loans. They are fed loans.

My wife is now 43 and with in the last six months they started drafting her paychecks. At first it was a huge amount, to the tune of $300 a pay period! She was able to get them to come down to now $60 a pay period.

Her mother called the student loan guy, the one who makes the descisions on what amount they will settle for. He was rude and dismissive when she offered the original amount of around $5,000. Stated he would only take the full amount of now $13,000. The guy said they spent $5,000 just to try to locate my wife!

That can’t be true considering she has actually PAID on the loan before just to avoid them drafting her check. She has made phone contact with them in the past as well, giving them her addresses as she moved some in the 20 plus years since the signing took place.

The ex however, is living IN THE SAME HOUSE, that is in his dead mother’s name (I checked that info) and I believe is working full-time under the table for someone. What can be done here? It does not sound like they want to work with her, and he is living off the grid in essence with no repercussions for his deadbeat ways.

I have a 4 year old son who is battling leukemia (he is doing well) and we just cant afford to pay for another guy’s loans!! What steps do I need to take to get this off of my family?

Will it do me any good to find out where the guy is working and report it to the fed loan folks?

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My feeling is that since they have someone who they are getting money from already, they wont care, or follow up on my “detective” work. I feel like im being bamboozled from “the man” and “the bad guy” at the sametime! I would be greatful for any advise as how to handle this.



Dear Robby,

The bad news is when she cosigned she agreed to be entirely liable for the debt if the other party did not pay.

Since she is getting her pay garnished this old debt has move along into an administrative wage garnishment.

I feel like you need to start back at square one here and move forward to gather some data. For example, do we even know if she actually did cosign the loan so long ago? Before we assume, let’s check. She can use the National Student Loan Data System to try to verify the loan and her obligation.

It is quite possible the original loan balance has grown so high over the years. Between building interest, fees and collection charges it is not unreasonable to see the balance climb. But, it would be helpful to get an itemization of the balance to verify it.

Since this is a Federal student loan you should also call the Department of Education directly for more information. You can call 1-800-621-3115 for questions regarding your defaulted student loan account You may also reach them by e-mail at [email protected].

And then, after all of that, if you feel you are not being treated fairly over this matter you should contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman program.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.
Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach
Steve Rhode

6 thoughts on “My Wife is Getting Garnished for a Federal Student Loan She Cosigned For 23 Years Ago. – Robby”

  1. Watch Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI) yesterday before congress…
    “To all families burdened by student loan debt, a solution is on the way!”

    Once these bills are officially announced we will all need to be ready to write letters and make calls to congress strongly urging them to support these and to not let them die on the floor.  I’m currently putting together a “campaign toolkit” to help everyone easily do this. 
    Once its ready I will post it on my website at 
    At the bottom of the home page is a news feed that you can also follow to see the latest news on this and other student loan related issues.

    Please do not stop sharing your stories, here and on other forums.  America needs to know how this industry works and how it has destroyed so many lives.  These are also great venues to to find support to help you through, to stay informed of the issues/changes, and to get involved in bringing about positive change!
    Here are a couple of other sites that are well worth checking out:…this group has played a large roll in creating the “Student Loan Borrowers Bill of Rights” that Rep. Clarke refers to.…this is a great place to share your story and read what others have experienced and why we so desperately need to “fix” this system.

    To all here suffering under the burden of student loan debt–hang in
    there–help is on the way!  It will not come easily and it WILL take

    We all have different types of loans and different situations but
    remember that every little bit a of progress made is a step to bringing
    relief for ALL.  By standing together we can turn around the injustices
    of the SL industry!

  2. Is it possible to sue the ex and force him to re-finance the loan.  Was there anything in the divorce papers so long ago that might have mentioned this?

  3. I am appalled by this situation! 
    As matter of practice, this should be “automatically” reviewed and resolved during the settlement period when debts and assets are divided. 
    Unless the soon to be ex WANTS to remain a co-signer, the student should be forced to refinance these loans leaving the “co-signer” free of further obligation, much the same way the family home is settled with a re-fi and quit claim deed. 
    So not only do we have ZERO consumer protections for student loans, they can also continue to haunt us after divorce as this story points out. 

    Robby…I don’t know if you’re up for this type of battle, but it couldn’t hurt to get all your facts together and start an online petition targeted at whoever it is that currently holds the loan (as Steve mentioned, you can get this information from the National Student Loan Data System).
    There area a variety of sites you can use for this;,, and so on. 

    You can also reach out to a lawyer specializing in student loans to see what they may know about this.  Here are a couple to get you started; Joshua Cohen at or Adam Minsky at

    I wish you luck with this, please keep us posted!


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