11/28/2012 05:50 pm ET Updated Jan 28, 2013

Ella Edwards, Mother, Asks Bank To Forgive Dead Son's College Loan In Online Petition (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Following an appearance Tuesday on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” 61-year-old Ella Edwards has had her deceased son Jermaine’s $10,800 student loan forgiven. On the show, Edwards updated listeners on her online petition, which had collected about 200,000 signatures to that point. Edwards explained, however, that she still was uncertain how the loan's lender would respond, at which point Joyner offered to pay the debt.


BOSTON, Nov 28 - The mother of a Detroit-area college student who died in 2009 has launched an online petition asking lender First Marblehead Corp to forgive a $10,000 student loan taken on by her son that she says she cannot repay.

Ella Edwards, a 61-year-old woman working part-time as a seamstress, has garnered some 191,000 signatures for her online petition on the website

"I am trying to pay off Jermaine's loan, but I simply don't have the money - and because of my crushing depression, I am barely able to work at all," Edwards said in her online petition. "Nobody told me when I co-signed the loan that I would be forced to pay them back even if my son died."

Her son, Jermaine, died suddenly in 2009 at the age of 24 after studying music production at colleges in Florida and Michigan, officials with said. No cause of death was given. Edwards said he left a 2-year-old son.

A spokesman for Boston-based First Marblehead declined to comment specifically on Edwards' case, citing privacy rules.

"We're bound to service that loan in accordance with the original loan contract with the customer," bank spokesman Bill Baumer said.

"If a person has a complaint or a particular request for some sort of relief, we have process in place to assess and evaluate those if we are able to provide that relief."