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Grieving Father Struggles to Pay Dead Son’s Student Loans

The father, a gardener who earns $21,000, co-signed for his son’s loans. Now, he can’t even find out who holds them.

Francisco Reynoso, with his wife Silvia and daughter Evelyn in the background, co-signed for his son's student loans. When his son Freddy was killed in a car accident after graduating from college, Reynoso not only had to deal with his grief but also with debt collectors constantly calling him to repay his son's loans. (J. Emilio Flores for ProPublica)

A few months after he buried his son, Francisco Reynoso began getting notices in the mail. Then the debt collectors came calling.

"They would say, 'We don't care what happened with your son, you have to pay us,'" recalled Reynoso, a gardener from Palmdale, Calif.

Reynoso's son, Freddy, had been the pride of his family and the first to go to college. In 2005, after Freddy was accepted to Boston's Berklee College of Music, his father co-signed on his hefty private student loans, making him fully liable should Freddy be unwilling or unable to repay them. It was no small decision for a man who made just over $21,000 in 2011, according to his tax returns.

"As a father, you'll do anything for your child,” Reynoso, an American citizen originally from Mexico, said through a translator.

Now, he's suffering a Kafkaesque ordeal in which he's hounded to repay loans that funded an education his son will never get to use — loans that he has little hope of ever paying off. While Reynoso's wife, Sylvia, is studying to be a beautician, his gardening is currently the sole source of income for the family, which includes his 18-year-old daughter Evelyn.

And the loans are maddeningly opaque. Despite the help of a lawyer, Reynoso has not been able to determine exactly how much he owes, or even what company holds his loans. Just as happened with home mortgages in the boom years before the 2008 financial crash, his son's student loans have been sold and resold, and at least one was likely bundled into a complex Wall Street security. But the trail of those transactions ends at a wall of corporate silence from companies that include two household names: banking giant UBS and Xerox, which owns the loan servicer handling the bulk of his loans. Left without answers is a bereaved father.

The risk of cosigning on Freddy's loans seemed to have been worth it when he graduated in May 2008 and began looking for a job in the music industry. He was on the way back from a job interview on the evening of Sept. 4 when he lost control of his car and it rolled over. Freddy's family learned of his death the next morning.

The grief was relentless; the debt collectors, ruthless. By law, debt collectors must go through a debtor's attorney if one has been hired, but even after Reynoso hired an attorney, he said they continued to call him every day, several times a day, for about a year and a half: "I would tell them to call the lawyer. And they would still say, 'The lawyer doesn't owe us. You're the one who owes us. You're the one who has to pay us.'"

Meanwhile, Reynoso was still reeling: "I was crying for him every day,” he said.

The question of to whom Reynoso's debts are actually owed — and who has the authority to forgive them — is a mystery that thus far neither Reynoso nor his lawyer has been able to solve.

One of Freddy's student loans was cancelled after his death without a problem: his federal loan. That's because the government cancels student loans if a student dies.

But the bulk of Freddy's loans were private student loans, which typically offer less favorable interest rates and fewer consumer protections. Only a few private student lenders offer debt discharges in the event of the borrower's death, though public outcry over specific cases has swayed lenders to grant occasional death discharges.

But for the Reynosos, just figuring out whom to appeal to has been an exercise in futility. Working with a law firm, Francisco Reynoso sent copies of Freddy's death certificate to any company that sent paperwork about the loans. He remembers being told by at least one company that they'd call him to work out a solution. But no one ever did, he said, and the bills kept coming — each time larger than the last with more interest, more late fees.

"We sent out death certificates to all of them," said Dolores Orozco-Serrano, a legal administrator with Borowitz & Clark, the bankruptcy law firm handling the Reynosos' case. Only the federal loan was discharged. "Everyone else was not cooperative at all."

Freddy Reynoso's private loans were originated by two companies — Bank of America and Education Finance Partners. Neither company still holds onto them. ProPublica tried to find out who did.

First, the Bank of America loan: Almost as soon as Bank of America originated it, the loan was sold to a Boston-based company called First Marblehead, once one of the biggest securitizers of student loans. But nowhere in the paperwork sent to the Reynosos and reviewed by ProPublica does the name First Marblehead appear. Instead, the Reynosos have received paperwork emblazoned with the logo of National Collegiate Trust. That's the name First Marblehead gave to bundles of loans that it turned into Wall Street securities and sold to investors. Was Freddy's loan bundled into a security? And if so, who owns it now? First Marblehead has not returned repeated requests for comment.

Freddy Reynoso's other loans followed an even more complicated path — and one tainted by scandal. Education Finance Partners, the private student loan company that originated the largest portion of Freddy's student debts, reached a $2.5 million settlement agreement with the New York Attorney General's Office in 2007 to settle charges that it had paid colleges across the country to steer students toward its high-interest loans. And Berklee College of Music, Freddy's alma mater, was one of the schools singled out in that investigation for accepting the improper payments. Berklee College of Music spokesman Allen Bush acknowledged in a statement to ProPublica that the school accepted a total of $23,000 from Education Finance Partners between 2005 and 2007, but said that "all of these funds were deposited into a financial aid account and disbursed through a need-based grant system to current Berklee students."

Education Finance Partners, Freddy's lender, never admitted any wrongdoing. A year after the settlement, the company declared bankruptcy.

But who holds Freddy's loans now remains a mystery. The company's archives — now kept by a company called Loan Science — show that his loans were scooped up by the Swiss bank UBS in October 2008. But the entire portfolio changed hands again in 2009. "That 2009 sale was private, it was bound by a confidentiality agreement and, therefore, we're not in a position to disclose the identity of the purchaser," wrote a UBS spokesman in an email.

One possibility: Freddy's loan may have been among those acquired by the Swiss National Bank, Switzerland's equivalent of the U.S. Federal Reserve, when it bailed out UBS. (See our sidebar.)

Reynoso and his lawyer don't even know exactly how much he now owes, but it appears to be well into the six figures. The loan that Bank of America originated is clear: At the end of March, the balance was around $7,400, according to Mike Reiber, a spokesman for PHEAA, a company that once serviced that loan. (With the loan in default, it now resides with First Marblehead, Reiber said.) But the other, much larger portion of Reynoso's debt remains murky. A 2009 lending disclosure document indicates that through Education Finance Partners, UBS extended nearly $160,000 in credit to Freddy Reynoso, and projected that if he made all payments as scheduled, the loan for his music education would end up costing him $279,000.

Seemingly the only party who knows — and is obligated to tell Reynoso — about this debt is the servicer, ACS Education Services.

Citing privacy reasons, ACS declined to disclose any specifics about the loans to ProPublica, even with Reynoso's full consent. Three weeks ago, Francisco Reynoso himself sent a letter to ACS asking who currently holds the loans, but he has received no response.

ACS is a subsidiary of Xerox, so ProPublica put in several calls there. Given more than a full week to respond, Xerox's corporate communications team has yet to provide a response to queries about when Reynoso can expect basic information about his son's loans, including the amount he owes and the name of the company that now owns the debt.

Even with the help of a lawyer, Reynoso's options are limited. Unlike most kinds of debt, private student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy, though Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is leading an effort to change that. So for the time being, Reynoso's hope hinges on a narrow provision in the bankruptcy code called a hardship discharge. The bar for proving "undue hardship" is high, but Reynoso still hopes for the best as he waits for a ruling from the bankruptcy judge. As he puts it: "I'm in the hands of God."

OBVIOUS QUESTIONS, LEFT UNANSWERED

” .. Unlike most kinds of debt, private student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy, though Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is leading an effort to change that ..”

Are these private loans, guaranteed by taxpayers?

In such a BK discharge—how much will taxpayers, be financially responsible for?

Wish ProPublica was concerned about taxpayers. Its lack of concern is glaring and severe.

Russ, this loan would come to about 1/10 of a cent per taxpayer.  We can afford that.  They’d have to discharge 1000 loans to get to $1 per taxpayer.  Wouldn’t you pay $1 a year to live in a country that is kind to grieving parents?

I am a bit confused as to the point of your article?  Are you saying it’s unfair that someone who co-signed a load is responsible to pay back the loan when the primary signatore is unable?  Or is it a story of yet another mess of a loan which happens thousands of times a day in the USA?

While it is a sad story, and I am extremely sympathetic, the father co-signed the loans.  He took on responsibility to pay them if the child decided he/she didn’t feel like paying them back or, in this awful case, the child died.

Love how your blaming the marks instead of the crooks. ProPublica is concerned about the taxpayers being swindled by these for profit lenders. If the lenders collectors can’t show true title/ origin of the notes or that they hold the original notes then if these notes are federally guaranteed( which is what you purport to be worried about) how does the government know in fact they should be providing the guaranteed funds?. What’s transparent and accountable for one is at least transparent and traceable for all. I’ll leave off dumb@55 right now while you ponder that.

Here’s a question:  Why did the bank allow a gardner whose entire annual income would barely cover the semester’s tuition ($17,725 for Fall 2012 before fees, according to their website) and—being an immigrant—probably doesn’t have much of a credit history co-sign for the loan?  That’s a seriously bone-headed move unless one expected the kid to die and just needed anyone on the hook.

I might also ask how the financial aid office allowed him to take on that kind of loan, knowing it’d be impossible to pay back.  For example, the LA and NY Philharmonics pay six-figures (up to 150K), but most other music careers don’t pay a quarter of that.

So, figure a semi-comfortable $2,000 per month after taxes (36K salary) with no expenses and no interest on the loan, therefore sending every cent to cover a four-year degree, just to make the numbers easy to work with.  Paying that loan would have taken Freddy seventy-one (71) years!  Even a decent half-scholarship would have merely cut it down to his retirement.

In other words, there must be something else going on in this story.  Someone dropped the ball, possibly maliciously, in allowing this to happen.

JACK THE RIP-OFF

June 14, 2012, 10:44 a.m.

My small loan to go to Europe with my class was only 1,800.00 originally.  Due to the death of my dad and my mom (very mentally ill) and I struggling to cover costs, I was never able to repay as Ronald Reagan decided to “punish” my “willful” default.  The interest rates compounded on these loans reached a ridiculous 19% compounded monthly I think. 

Later when I would file my income taxes and trust me I was well below poverty level earnings and entitled to a living income credit or whatever it is they dole out the pitiful in this country, but the government seized it to “repay a debt”  So I was left further in straights.

TOday the loan is STILL outstanding, but they have absconded with my tax returns since I was 23.  I have already “paid” them in the neighborhood of 25,000.00 and they say I owe another 25,000 or so.. FROM A ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLAR LOAN. 

Basically I assure you I will NEVER dole out one RED CENT to them, and if I ever learn to be a good greedy Capitalist and learn to hide my money in hedge funds and offshore accounts…..I will still never take one dollar of my millions to pay them.  I learned my lesson well.  Our system is a corrupt one, made only to enslave people forever.  THey can basically kiss my (_*_)  Im too busy LIVING LIFE to spend it chasing something as banal and worthless, as money.

Russ,

To answer your question, no—these private loans are not guaranteed by taxpayers, and their discharge would not cost taxpayers. So I don’t understand your claim that ProPublica doesn’t care about taxpayers.

Some additional context: Federal loans (including the privately originated, federally guaranteed loans that I’m guessing you’re thinking of) are not dischargable in bankruptcy—but they are still dischargable in cases where the borrower dies.

Best,
Marian

Do it the easy, legal way. Simply declare the only party who can claim to be paid is the holder of the original signed papers/loans. So, they get ONE shot to produce the original signed papers. No signed papers = no debt owed. Problem solved.

2 comments.
First, even if he’d lived, it would be very difficult and almost impossible for a Berkley C. Music grad to pay off six-figures with of loans if he pursued a music profession. The expected wages/salary of someone who plans to work in the music business is not high enough to service that debt load.
Second, although I feel bad for the father, he did cosign; and there was an easy way to prevent this outcome. He could have purchased life-insurance on his son or his son could have purchased it. At his age it would have been very inexpensive.  I’m surprised that the private loan companies don’t offer an insurance add-on (at a big markup of course).

To Jack: Why don’t you adjust your withholding’s so you don’t get a tax refund, then they could not garnish you!

Bruce Fernandes

June 14, 2012, 12:49 p.m.

NEVER, EVER cosign a student loan for your kids… NEVER.

As tragic as this is these student loan providers trick parents into co-signing without parents understanding that if the student defaults for whatever reason they are on the hook.

Many parents have had their lives derailed by these realities.

This is very sad that the father is on the hook for the loans but he co-signed. And I have seen it over and over how educational institutions want to keep students as LIFETIME professional students with more and more loans. Yet, I must add another facet to this which everyone has missed. Where is the life insurance on the Son. You have no idea for financial planning how many times I tell parents, you have spend thoundands or owe thousands so far on your childs (childrens) education, and you should have LIFE INSURANCE on him or her. With most people it goes in one ear and out the other like the insurance agent is an idiot! A simple term insurance policy for about $150 per year would have solved everything!

this is heartbreaking!I listened to Diamond from JP Morgan Chase saying how the banks forced him to take tarp money this morning on Democracy Now-why does a decent hard working man like this have to suffer this and Diamond just lies in front of his congressional lapdogs with impunity. this is so wrong!!!!

Russ, this loan would come to about 1/10 of a cent per taxpayer. We can afford that. They’d have to discharge 1000 loans to get to $1 per taxpayer. Wouldn’t you pay $1 a year to live in a country that is kind to grieving parents?

No one single raindrop thinks its responsible for the flood.

This concern about taxpayer obligations is nonsense.  Our society has become insane that we take a grieving family and the first thing out of someone’s mouth is “Am I responsible for their loss?”.  The reality is debt is a myth.  Once people realize this, control has no validity.  Until then, we are enslaved to a culture of economic criminals and a complicit corporate state who enables them to enslave us in debt tyranny.

Left college in 1982 owing $8,000.  Its been 30 years and I only have a $4,000 balance.  Let me make it easy for you:  By the time I finish paying this off, I will have paid over $30,000.00.  What happened to Obama’s balance ‘forgiveness’ in 2012?  No such thing.  It turns out it was nothing but a push for consolidation, i.e., more money/debt to service the paperwork.  It was so promising!

This is standard procedure. I have just reached the point where its time to start paying back my student loans and the federal government can’t even tell me who my loan servicer is. This is the same charlie-foxtrot we’ve witnessed with MERS and mortgage-loan servicing. Show me the paperwork!

@MarciHill
- in THIRTY years, you haven’t been able to pay off an $8,000 loan? Seriously? How many vacations have you taken in that time? How many cars have you purchased? How many restaurant meals have you paid for? Etc? Or maybe you meant an $80,000 loan?

Barbara Hyman

June 14, 2012, 1:49 p.m.

As I read the comments on this article, I am struck by the intelligence of most of the remarks, except by those who wonder, “who’s going to pay for this!”. What I gather out there, is a caring, sympathetic majority, who are facing some complex issues. It’s interesting that this one case becomes the poster child for so many seemingly disparate issues. Even if he’d lived, the boy would have himself been under heavy financial pressure in order to pay back his loans. Eventually, maybe his parents could have helped him. He sounds like a great kid, and his loss is a tragedy for this family, and, in a way, for all of us. Now, in addition to their grief, this family is at the vortex of a financial hail storm, when they were already struggling to get their slice of the American dream. Their fate is a harbinger for all of us, as The United States looks more and more like “The Hunger Games”.

Granville Simmons

June 14, 2012, 1:52 p.m.

This is the government that most Americans vote for…one which sees all of the thievery and abuse by banksters/usuers and does absolutely NOTHING. It is an abomination in the sight of Almighty God. and yet this system is allowed to continue because of all of the Americans who have been brainwashed into beliieving thatt to question the accumulation of wealth by the multi-millionaires is somehow “Un-Amierican”.  READ THE GOSPELS. It is easier for a camel to travel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

Alessandro Machi

June 14, 2012, 1:56 p.m.

John, way up at the top,  Sure the dad co-signed the loan, but the person who benefited from the loan has passed away, and that is what makes this more of a unique situation.

If the son was alive, he no doubt would have taken any job to pay off the loan and not burden his dad.

@MikeH
- there’s always someone like you whining about being a put upon taxpayer even if they aren’t. And like so many of your ilk, it’s always about you and no sympathy or empathy for someone in dire straits. Probably you think you’re a ‘good’ person, but you’re not defining the word correctly. The word you and those like you are looking for is ‘selfish’. Of course, this explanation won’t mean anything to you, unless one day you need some sympathy or empathy, and you don’t get any because you’ll meet up with people like yourself.

First and foremost I wish to send my deepest sympathies to this family.  I know exactly what you are going through.  The lost of your beloved son is overwhelming.  When you compound that pain with the cold, uncaring banking world it is more than salt in a fresh, open wound.

I hope that there will be a follow up to this story.  If this family can not be forgiven the debt I would hope that Propublica will give details on how people can reach out and help this family.

@Jaisne…....It’s more about being furious that people have no better ability to think things through. Student loans are usually stupid and only those who don’t think take them.  Work. Save money. When you’ve saved enough, go to school. That’s what was done a generation ago. What’s wrong with that thinking? It’s called taking responsibility for yourself.

Here’s another thought: If you choose to have children, you owe them an education. If you cannot provide for your children, don’t have them. At least don’t bitch if you don’t earn much, have children, can’t pay for their educations, and are left with student loans for which you co-signed.

Responsibility.  Don’t whine.

Mr. Reynoso:

I hope, I believe, that some good person of means or some group of people will help you and your wife and daughter.  I hope your unbearable grief will lessen.

I hope you won’t allow the cruel comments posted here to cause you further grief.  When some people are enabled to make commentary without signing their names, they get ugly.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.

There’s brotherly love out here.  In spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary.

I keep thinking of that tale of Jesus and the money changers (a.k.a. “the cleansing of the Temple”)...and I conclude that Jesus was way too nice of a guy to be able to deal with America’s modern “money changers”.

Ours…and the web of “high finance”, corporate “people”, and political corruption that they lurk in…require something stronger than religion.

@Kay - how much money of your own did you invest in your education?

You see I find that your attitude is common among those whose parents paid their way - and I find that the attitude that lurks behind words such as yours is that America - the ideal of America - should be taken out back and shot.

That is, economic mobility and “the land of opportunity” should be replaced with a two-class system of serfs who are forever locked into economic slavery under the less-than-benevolent rule of an overclass that is a hereditary aristocracy…an aristocracy which funds the rise of their children into positions of power and privilege within America while working to ensure that the children of the multitude of serfs can never rise above “their place”.

Which begs the question:  Why did we bother revolting against our right’s apparent role model, the aristocracy of the England of old?

ARE YOU CERTAIN?

” .. To answer your question, no—these private loans are not guaranteed by taxpayers, and their discharge would not cost taxpayers. So I don’t understand your claim that ProPublica doesn’t care about taxpayers ..”

Do you have a citation that states that?

ProPublica does NOT make that clear.

I am amazed by the callousness of some of the comments.  I understand that this man co-signed his son’s loans, I do understand and grasp a portion of the obligation therein.  However, HE LOST HIS SON. As a parent who has lost a child you have no idea hos that void will never be filled.  I think the exorbitant interest charged on these loans, both FEDERAL and SUBSIDIZED is ridiculous,  not to mention hounding a parent who lost a child, daily in an effort to collect on the loan.  There is no way many of these school loans will ever be able to be repaid, and knowing what costs are medically as a person grows older, not to mention the fact that these people haven’t paid into retirement, I see a very bleak future for many Americans.  This man has suffered enough, let it go.  The school got their money.  It’s done. Let it go, and let this man have time to heal, and as for ‘moralists’ who bring up, ‘honoring obligation’  I wonder how many ‘obligations’ financial or otherwise, you have kept..

James F Traynor

June 14, 2012, 3:43 p.m.

What a pathetic bunch - all of you. You’ve been sold a bill of goods not worth a damn by a clever bunch of capitalists who are sucking the life’s blood out of this country. And you still don’t know it!

Alessandro Machi

June 14, 2012, 3:55 p.m.

The inability of some to differentiate between death, and taxes (or in this case a loan obligation), is beyond appalling.

I have been advocating a consumer’s right to debt neutrality. Debt neutrality is when a debt is acknowledged, but all future penalties, fees and interest rate charges are waived, and the person pays down the debt whenever they make a certain amount of money per month.

Debt neutrality can be declared upon a family medical emergency, loss of job, crime victim, caretaking for a family member. Debt Neutrality is such an obvious consumer right, that does not yet exist.

This debt should be declared neutral, and then the rest can be figured out over time.

@russ, who is afraid taxpayers might be on the hook for ensuring that America has the educated population required to ensure the safety and security - the very future of America:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-41240492/student-loans-time-to-reform-the-law-that-treats-debtors-like-crooks/

I quote:  “Conservative Congressmen hate students who take loans. They lump them with tax cheats, criminals who owe reparations, and deadbeat dads.

What do these people have in common? None of them is allowed to discharge the debt in bankruptcy. People who take loans for higher education and, later, fall on hard times, are considered unworthy of a fresh start in their financial life.

A handful of legislators want to change the law, to restore former students to their place in respectable society. But powerful forces stand against them—not only the lenders but also their Congressional pals. They believe that anyone with a college loan should be treated more harshly than consumers who run up other types of debt.

You might make the argument that federal student and parent loans should not be discharged in bankruptcy. They’re insured by the taxpayers, who deserve their money back.

But what about the private loans made by banks and other education lenders? Bankers are capitalists. They assess the borrower’s risk and apply variable interest rates, currently up to about 12 percent and sometimes higher. Why should the U.S. government act as their debt collectors? I thought that bankers wanted the feds out of their affairs.

Back in the day, private student loans could be discharged in bankruptcy, just like any other unsecured consumer debt. Many lenders got around that law by issuing loans through nonprofits, which usually kept them out of bankruptcy court.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 straight-out exempted private loans from bankruptcy and from the normal business risk of loan default. Lenders could levy whatever terms they wanted on student and parent borrowers, and threaten them with permanent servitude if they couldn’t pay.

End quote.

Buying a major position in the Republicans is one of the better investments Big Banking has made over the last four decades.  Of course, it was another knife in the back of the future of United States of America’s…and what with that knife, and the knife that is Big Oil’s, and the knife that is the 0.01%‘s, and the knife that is multinational Corporate America’s…

Well, all evidence to date insists that the wounds are mortal.

@ Jaisne

You and your “ilk” seem to define “good” as compulsory charity with jail as the punishment for failure to be “charitable”. After all, people are “hungry” and “homeless” so society (i.e. the taxpayers) has to feed and house them, and if elements of society object to this forced charity then they are selfish.

I can assure you that I feel terrible for the predicament the Reynoso’s are in, but that doesn’t change the fact that he willingly cosigned the loan.

Terrible enough to force banking to rejoin the free market by voiding those legislative efforts - such as the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 - that force all risk upon those who take out loans and make the government of the United States of America the debt collectors of Big Banking?

Stephanie Palmer

June 14, 2012, 6:32 p.m.

I do believe that the creditor has to come up with the documents before any payment is required. I’m sure the debt owner has to produce the documents before the father submits any payments. After all, this could be a total con instead of the major con it appears to be.

There are still many unanswered questions in this story. Has the man EVER made a single payment? If he has he could see who cashed the check, and would know who holds the loan. But it sounds like the moment the bills came after his son died, he just told them over and over his son was dead and then hired an attorney. And while it *is* a hassle, anyone who co-signs a loan for *anyone* should assume right then that they will be responsible. They are relying heavily on the angle “he didn’t get to use the education this money was used for” but…. if you buy a car and never drive it, are they going to care when they want their payment? No way…

And why isn’t the 18-year-old daughter working?

STILL WAITING

PP: are these loans guaranteed by taxpayers? PP, you do NOT make this clear. Please do your job, accurately—OweBama does not, either.

As for this—I quote:  “Conservative Congressmen hate students who take loans—BULL. An opinion, with NO facts. Congrats.

Want to bail this guy out, whose son got to live in Boston for four years? YOU PAY.

Uhm folks. Recall in the article Francisco conducted this interview through a translator.

Rest assured, the translator that assisted with the student loan process spoke the language of greed. While the translator for this web based article only provides condolences and best wishes.

Life is cruel, unfair, and unforgiving.

Where was the sanity check for this kid to have borrowed that amount of money?

An appalling account of compounded grief. John has it right when he states that no responsible lender would approve a loan co-sign to someone without the ability to pay. BUT, we have the home loan meltdown which employed the same tricks. Bad loans with horrendous balloon interest rates sliced and diced and sold as “securities” (credit default swaps, derivatives, etc.). 

Equally appalling are the posts above written by Ayn Rand acolytes who live by the thoughtless short term mantra: “So far I’ve gotten away with getting what I can as fast as I can by whatever means I can so screw everyone else.” They lack the capacity to understand the long term benefits of providing a good affordable education for ALL since they fail to understand that our current students will soon take our places, VOTE, and RUN OUR COUNTRY.

Our culture: when we feel we should not have to pay, we cry fowl….....while I feel for the parents, WHEN YOU SIGN SOMETHING, you are responsible. Sorry, that it how it works. It is like joining the military because you want them to pay for college, but when you are sent to war, you think ” this is BS, this is not what I signed up for”. People need to be held accountable for their actions. We have this culture of ” I did not know, or I do not deserve this”. DONT DO THINGS YOU CAN’T HANDLE.

sorry for the loss of their child. I cannot imagine the pain.

The loan is not backed by the US Gov, it is a public loan that is backed my either a bank, finance company or in some type of securitization.
*  The FFELP loan that was discharged was what the government is on the hook for the private loan is not.
*  The trustee or servicer will be the one harrasing the parent to make the payments and that is most likely ACS.
*  Private loans are similar to credit card debt and should be discharged in bankruptcy the tricky part as i understand it is if you consolidate a private loan w/a government loan it might not be dischargable.

The best recommendation for Mr.Reynoso and his legal representation is to go directly to the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman to request assistance in working with the loan servicer, ACS, to discharge these loans.

While these loans are not Federal loans, the Dept. of Education’s office of the Ombudsman will help to mediate a resolution as this falls under their purview.

The Ombudsman can be contact by phone: 1-877-557-2575.

Good luck!

The funny thing is - everyone benefits from educated citizens - but aren’t willing to pay for it.

Private schools and private loans for education are a rip-off. Avoid them and avoid any politician who spouts on about vouchers. It’s a truck load of “make me rich” talk.

Just to add a little more context to the conversation, I submit:

http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/it’s-okay-to-walk-away-let’s-end-the-“morality”-double-standard-on-mortgage-defaults-535365.html?tickers=mac,vno,spg,xhb,vnq,tol,len

Quote:  “More and more commercial real-estate companies are doing what many indebted homeowners would like to do: Walk away from mortgages on properties that are now worth a lot less than they paid for them.

Today’s Wall Street Journal highlights three major developers - Macerich, Vornado Realty Trust and Simon Property Group - that have recently decided to default on mortgages.

When companies do this, no one bats an eye—it’s just “smart business.”

When ordinary homeowners think about doing it, meanwhile, the mortgage industry and government begin moaning that a mortgage is more than a business contract. It’s a social contract, in which homeowners have a “moral obligation” to pay.

That’s bunk. An individual mortgage is no different than a corporate mortgage. If corporations are allowed to walk away from mortgage obligations without feeling shame and guilt, then individuals should be able to do so, too.”

End quote.  The problem, of course, is that the Republicans don’t represent the American people…they have chosen to represent Corporate America instead of the American people.

I.e, they violate their oaths of office and the Constitution on a routine and daily basis.

Man, what a bunch of mean people. It seems like no one has any compassion anymore.

@Susan:  The interesting thing is the meaner they are, the more likely they are to self-identify as Republicans and the less likely they are to have served in the military.

They bless America with their presence.

To Kay, above, who wrote: “Student loans are usually stupid and only those who don’t think take them.  Work. Save money. When you’ve saved enough, go to school. That’s what was done a generation ago. What’s wrong with that thinking? It’s called taking responsibility for yourself.”

What’s wrong with that thinking? It’s called This Economy is Awful. It’s called Do You Have Any Idea How Much College Costs Today? It’s called Way to Date Yourself, Old-Timer.

A generation ago, college was affordable. It was on par with the economy. College today, even at a public universitiy, is unthinkably expensive. And because admissions have become more and more competitive over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to garner a scholarship to defray costs. I have seen instances of students with solid 4.0 GPAs and stellar test scores who still had to fork over $40k a year to attend college. Have you seen the current statistics on the cost-of-living: cost of attendance ratio now? It’s ridiculous. Yep, grandma, I’m sure YOUR generation was able to pay for college by working summers and side jobs while in school. Well, guess what, genius? For MY generation, working summers and side jobs is presumed and already included in financial aid packages. The bottom line cost is well above and beyond any meager earnings any student could crank out in a year.

A generation ago, my uncle attended college in California for free.  FOR FREE! Whenever I hear this, I am agog with disbelief and crazy with jealousy. Like the young man in this article, I was the first person in my low-income household to attend college. Like the young man, I took out the maximum federal loans allowed. College financial aid packages always assume a “parental contribution.” My parents, however, didn’t contribute, so I had to take out a private loan from Citibank to cover their “contribution.” I suppose I was lucky—my loan was only $20,000. This loan, however, has been the bane of my existence in the decade since I graduated. Trouble finding a job? Too bad! Pay up! Working a low-paying (or unpaid) internship? Too bad! Pay up! Extenuating circumstances that have temporarily put you in dire financial straits? Too bad! Pay up!

Private student loans, incidentally, REQUIRE a co-signer. If Mr. Reynoso had not co-signed, his son would not have been able to take out the loans and would not have been able to go to college.

And as for your other thought of “If you choose to have children, you owe them an education. If you cannot provide for your children, don’t have them”: ‘paying for college’ is not synonymous with ‘providing for your children.’  Once a child is 18, there is nothing his parents are legally required to provide for him. This might sound familiar to you—this was the prevailing ideology of your generation, correct? I say that because this was my parents’ belief. They felt college was a luxury. They had not attended, and had found work. If I wanted to attend, I had to pay for it myself. I accepted this and will be paying for my education (10 years ex post facto, I now owe $50,000) until I retire. How will I be able to pay for my own children’s educations? How will I be able to save for retirement? This is what I—and every one of my friends—stays up nights worrying about.

In sum: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Stop talking.

A few P.S.es:

1. Andre above pointed out what should be blatantly obvious. It deserves restating: Mr. Reynoso’s English is so poor that he had to be interviewed via a translator. Have you ever seen the fine-print legalese paperwork on a private student loan? Native English speakers can’t understand it. It is very likely neither Mr. Reynoso, nor his 18- (at the time) year-old son understood the ramifications of what they were signing. Private student loan lenders bank on the fact that most college students a) believe they are invincible, b) believe their college’s PR machine that tells them they’ll make lots of money once they graduate, and c) have no idea how large their monthly payments are going to be years down the road. Most college students have a vague notion that they’re signing off on quite large sums of money, but figure they’ll deal with that later- after they get their job, after they graduate, after they get through this semester, after they write this big paper. Of course this is terrible. But they’re kids. They don’t understand. (Feel free to reference psychological literature regarding cognitive development in adolescents.)

2. NO, people, private student loans will have NO bearing on your precious little taxpaying wallets. Private student loans are for-profit contracts with private companies. If I decide I want to take out a loan for a new car, and I can’t pay off the loan, do you have to pay it for me? Duh. If I max out my credit card and can’t make the payments, do you pay it off for me? Duh. If I can’t pay my private loan this month, will you pay it for me? Duh. Stop hounding ProPublica to “address” this “unanswered question.” ProPublica assumes a modicum of intelligence among its readers.

3. If Mr. Reynoso makes a paltry $21k a year, he likely felt life insurance on his young son was an unnecessary luxury he could not afford. This notion is common- even financial guru Suze Orman says you don’t need life insurance unless you have dependants. Most people my age (early 30s and childless) don’t have life insurance policies for this reason.

4. To Jessica, above, who wanted to know why the 18-year-old daughter wasn’t working: Um, probably because she just graduated high school last week. What utter insensitivity.

This family has gone through hell. For a family of three living on 21k a year is below the poverty level. Without a good command of English job opportunities are limited. One person asked why the daughter was not working? It isn’t any of our business what her plans are. For all we know she could still be in school. She is not obligated to pay back on this ill-conceived loan. There are too many questions here and not enough answers. Hopefully this will go viral and the loan shark companies will grow a pair and discharge this mess. 

What loan company out there would have a co-signer who supports three people on 21k a year?

The son has passed away and so should these loans, IMHO.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
College Debt

College Debt

Total outstanding college debt is estimated at $1 trillion dollars – and with costs still soaring, the burden on students and their families shows no signs of abating. We're examining how the complicated system of college debt is putting the squeeze on families.

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Blair Hickman, Community Manager
@amandablair
Blair.Hickman@propublica.org

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