WASHINGTON, D.C. [8/3/21]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced legislation to release cosigners of private student loan obligations in the event of a student borrower’s death. U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D- MN 2) authored this bill in the House, which passed as part of a comprehensive debt reform package on May 13.
Right now, federal law only releases cosigners from private student loans for late students if their loans were made after November 20, 2018. Families who cosigned on their lost loved one’s private student loan prior to this date are currently provided no protection or relief under federal law—and find themselves at the mercy and discretion of individual private student loan companies. This has sadly been the case for Minnesotans Mark and Julie Frascone, who tragically lost their son Ryan to an opioid overdose in 2013. Eight years since this unimaginable loss, this Eagan couple remains burdened with monthly payments on Ryan’s private student loan.
“Peace be with the Frascones, and all of the families who have had to mourn the tragic loss of a child,” said Sen. Smith. “When a parent loses a child, the very last thing they should have to worry about is a monthly private student loan payment. This legislation will close a loophole that’s patently unfair and frankly unethical.”
“Losing a family member brings immeasurable grief and hardship. That should not be compounded by the burden of paying off the family members’ student loan debts and dealing with the predatory practices private loan companies often use to collect them,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “This legislation will provide crucial relief to families struggling with the loss of a loved one.”
“Losing a child is one of the worst things that can happen to a parent – an unimaginable tragedy,” said Rep. Craig. “The last thing that any bereaved parent should have to undergo is a monthly reminder of their loss in the form of a student loan payment. It’s long past time that we fixed this glaring oversight and bring some sense of relief to these grieving families. I want to thank Senators Smith and Van Hollen for introducing the Senate companion bill in Ryan’s memory and I am eternally grateful to Mark and Julie for sharing their story and working with me to ensure that Congress eliminates this senseless burden on surviving family members across the country.”
You can read a summary of the bill here.