Five years ago, a Pastor and his wife lost their 27-year-old daughter to liver failure and wound up taking in the young woman’s three children. Now, they are struggling to pay the bill for her student loans that have since climbed to $200,000.
Reports say that prior to her death, Lisa Mason had taken out $100,000 in student loans to pay for nursing school, and her father Steve Mason had agreed to be the co-signer. In the five years since his daughter’s death, Steve has been unable to pay the $2,000 a month that is needed to pay back the loans that have now reached $200,000 thanks to high interest rates. Mason is unable to declare bankruptcy, and now, he and his wife have had enough.
“It's just impossible on a pastor's salary raising three kids to pay $2,000 a month on loans,” Mason told CNN Money, who says that even if he declares bankruptcy, he would still have to pay back the loans. “People with other debt from splurging -- they can discharge that. Student loans should really be the one type of debt they do discharge because it's done to further an education and career. But somehow getting my daughter an education has encumbered me for the rest of my life.”
Lenders have so far been somewhat helpful. Most have demanded their money back, but some have tried to work with the family. One of the lenders reduced their interest rate to 0% in an effort to assist the struggling parents.
“We've pretty much gone through our retirement [funds] already -- we didn't have a lot saved to begin with and now any extra money goes to the kids, as it should, and then whatever we can pay on the loans, we do,” Mason said. “At my stage of life, I should have a very different lifestyle than I do.”
Mason, who is now approaching 60, says he and his wife haven’t taken a vacation since their daughter died and they assumed responsibility of her three children. Sadly, Mason doesn’t think that will ever happen for them.