I Have Stage 4 Colon Cancer and Student Loans. – Maria

“Dear Steve,

2001 got private student loan grandfather co signed. Grad 2007 after a divorce and a child born in 2008 I had finical hardship. Ive paid on time in 2012 . 2013 diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer im on full disability, my co borrower is now 87 and on ssa as well. Its 160 days past due.

What can they do to us..
can they garnish ssa wages.
Can they sue us even though we on ssa.
can they levy my co borrow land or estate.
Will they settle ( aes.. national college trust ).


Dear Maria,

I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles and troubles with this.

If your grandfather does not have any big assets or massive cash in the bank to go after he might be what is called judgment proof. That doesn’t mean he can’t be sued, just that if they did sue and won they would not be able to collect on the judgment.

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There are a couple of good ways to handle this situation. The first stop would be to call the loan servicer and ask them about a total and permanent disability discharge. I’d explain you have stage 4 cancer.

If you can’t get anywhere with that then Plan B would be to find a local attorney who is experienced in dealing with student loans who can run interference for you with the student loan collectors.

If you can’t find anyone, they are hard to find, then I would suggest you consider Plan C and file bankruptcy and ask your bankruptcy attorney to address the private student loans in an adversary hearing with your bankruptcy. It’s a bit of a more complicated process but it would close the door on the loans completely.

Your situation matches those who have been more likely to get a bankruptcy discharge for their student loans, see this and this.

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Depending on your prognosis there is always Plan D which is to do nothing and remain in default. Let the collections process just run its course. You can’t do more than you can do. It would be a more productive use of your time at this point to focus on quality of life above all else.

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

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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