Can Parents Shed Student Debt Obligations?

Dear Dr. Don, 

As parents, we co-signed student college loans for our daughter, which we now regret. She recently got married. Both she and her husband are working to pay off their individual student loans. Are we still expected to pay off the loans if she cannot now that she is married? We are not talking small loans; she has $70,000 of debt arising from graduate school. We did make payments over the first four years of the loans.

Thank you, 

-Patricia Payment-Plan

Dear Patricia, 

Sorry to interrupt the financial honeymoon. Your agreement to co-sign your daughter's student loans survives her marriage to your son-in-law. That's because your agreement was with the lender, not her husband. So, you are still on the hook for this student debt obligation.

It's common for the student loan agreement to have provisions to allow for the removal of a co-signer after a set number of on-time payments and based on the creditworthiness of the primary borrower. The primary borrower typically must be the one to initiate this step. You can't do it on your own.

It is entirely reasonable to ask your daughter to review her loan documents and look into removing you as co-signers. After four years of making the loan payments for her, you've done enough.

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