Dear Dr. Don, I am a co-signer and so is my husband on student loans for our son, who has since graduated from college. He has a fantastic job with large annual bonuses and now has two kids of his own. We want our names off these loans. Our son has not yet done this for us. Do we have a legal option to make him get our names off the co-signed loans?
Thanks, -- Jo Juncture
Dear Jo, You should get in touch with the lender or loan servicer to determine what's required to remove a co-signer from a student loan, in a process also called a co-signer release. I asked Patricia Christel, a spokeswoman for Sallie Mae, what that college lender requires to complete a co-signer release.
For Sallie Mae student loans, a co-signer can initiate a request to be removed from the loan, but the primary borrower has to complete the application by providing financial information demonstrating that he or she can handle making the payments on his or her own. That wouldn't seem to be an issue in your son's situation.
I'd suggest picking up the phone and having a talk with your son about having him initiate this release process. Explain that he's needlessly tying up your access to credit and that it's time for him accept responsibility for these loans without you acting as his financial backstop.
If your relationship is too strained for this solution to work and you want to see if there are any legal remedies available to you, you'll need to work with your attorney to end your days as a student loan co-signer.
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