Why Private Student Loans Are A Dangerous Game

Co-signing a younger relative’s private student loans doesn’t seem like such a reckless idea. After all, it’s an investment in their education and careers, they’ll certainly be able to pay it all back once they’re educated, and they’re going to outlive you, anyway. That’s not always the case, and the risks can be substantial. Jessica’s best friend had her grandfather, now 80 years old, co-sign her private loans with Citibank. After her sudden and shocking death, now he’s on the hook for $70,000.

My best friend Samantha was always passionate about learning and furthering the field of science. As such, she was the first person in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, in Chemistry. We were so proud of her, and she had aspirations to do research to help find a cure for HIV. In order to be able to afford her degree and all of the associated costs of it (housing, etc.), Samantha took out a total of $70,000 in private student loans through Citibank. Because she was young with little credit history, they asked for a co-signer, and her grandfather gladly helped her out.

In March, Samantha died suddenly. We were all blindsided and completely devastated. When we sent her death certificate to her other lenders, they quickly forgave the balance. But because her grandfather had co-signed her loans, Citibank refused to budge. On top of losing his granddaughter, Sam’s ailing 80-year old grandfather is responsible for paying back every penny owed, with interest.

I know that because these student loans were private, it’s a legal grey area in terms of if Citi has to forgive them or not. But really, Citibank? Way to kick a man while he is down. Samantha’s family has already been through enough grief, and exhausted their savings paying for their daughter’s burial. Is there anything we can to do get these loans forgiven, or if not, reduced? I understand that Citi doesn’t want to lose their investment, but collecting interest on a dead woman’s loans to make a profit just seems cruel.

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