08/01/2013 05:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Will Sallie Mae Forgive My Dying Daughter's Student Loans?

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

My daughter has roughly $65,000 in Sallie Mae non-government backed student loans. She got her RN degree.

Her husband is a fireman and co-signed for her student loans. She has recently been diagnosed with a progressive lung-heart disease and has been given 5-7 years to live.

She cannot work and will not ever be able to go back to nursing (or anything else).

We have heard that some student loans are "forgiveable" if the student is disabled. Do you know anything about that?


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Dear Mom,

I'm so sorry to hear about the recent diagnosis. At this point the focus needs to be on her quality of life for these remaining years.

The first stop should be to talk to Sallie Mae about a permanent disability discharge based on the situation. They do not have a form for such a program on their site, but that does not mean they don't have an internal program to handle such situations. It is my belief they did/do offer a program for total and permanent disability forgiveness but I can't find anything on their site about that program.

At the heart of this issue will be a medical report from her physician, detailing her condition and prognosis. It is a good idea to give the physician a heads up in advance of what you are trying to do so everybody is on the same page.

If you can't get anywhere with that approach then my research into Sallie Mae loans included in a consumer bankruptcy where people file an additional adversary proceeding and have a chronic underlying medical condition show those debts can be discharged. You can see my research here.

It's excellent you are beginning to deal with these loans now. It will be an exercise in patience and tenacity but I firmly believe you will be able to achieve the desired outcome.

I think if you made it clear to Sallie Mae that her husband is a firefighter and would be unable to repay the student loans when she passes away, it will help your cause. They already know he's a co-signer.

Besides, it would make for a public relations mess if they decided to saddle a brave first responder with the student loans of his dead wife. I would not worry about that now. Let's deal with crossing that bridge if we ever got to that point.

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