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Am I Doomed as a Student Loan Cosigner?

“Dear Steve,

I co-signed a Sallie Mae (now Navient) student loan for my daughter’s half-sister about 10 years ago. She never finished her degree, got married and just gave birth to her third child. For the most part, she’s made payments on the loan but often put it in deferment or forbearance for periods of time.

The current amount of the loan is around $21K. She is now two months behind on payments and will not return my phone calls or text messages. I’ve heard (via her mother) that her husband considers the debt to be her’s (from before their marriage) and her problem and not his responsibility to help repay.

Of course, she’s a housewife and depends solely on his income. They are relatively well off. She drives a Hummer and he has a welding truck. They live in a relatively nice home in a relatively nice neighborhood. They live a pretty nice lifestyle and take regular trips and such. My point being, they are able to pay but choose not to.

Are there any options I could consider to hold them accountable for the debt and feel obligated to continue making payments? When I make payments, is there anything I can do to attempt to recoup my money from them? Am I simply doomed to pay the debt to maintain my credit and leave them free to ignore the debt without consequence?

Sean”

Dear Sean,

I suppose you could always try to sue the half-sister for the money you will pay on the debt. That might be a tough an expensive option but certainly worth talking over with a local attorney who is licensed in your state. You might even be able to take her to small claims court.

It seems she has been convinced to turn her back on this debt and lay it at your feet. But it also sounds like she wasn’t doing much to bring the balance down and took action to just let it sit idle and instead watched the balances grow. That just added to your liability.

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I get the feeling the current husband is just thumbing his nose at you and sending clear signals you should take a hike. But the fact remains you and the half-sister are co-debtors on this Sallie Mae debt and she does have a responsibility to repay.

If she decides not to repay the debt, it will land squarely at your feet since as the co-signer you agreed to be 100 percent responsible for the debt if she did/does not pay.

You really need to talk to a local attorney regarding your collection options from her.

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

Sincerely,


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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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