02/10/2014 11:20 am ET Updated Apr 12, 2014

My Private Student Loans Are Creating Tension With Cosigner

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I have a ton of student loan debt. I have around $70,000 in federal which is a ton, but manageable since I am on the income based payments and they have been great to work with. I have around $50,000 in private student loan debt that I can't afford.

My mom is a cosigner on them and it is causing a ton of tension between us. I graduated 3 years ago and have been unable to find work in my field, and have just had a couple of temp jobs since graduation. We have 3 kids and just can't keep up with what we are doing.

Is there any way to get the loans out of my mothers name or on an income based repayment schedule like the federal ones? I have asked the company (AES) but they have been awful to work with. Please help!! I just consolidated my federal loans with Sallie Mae, is there any way I can add my private loans in with the federal? I really need to know my options.


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Dear Heather,

Private student loans and federal student loans are as different as apples and lemons. While both are student loans they operate under entirely different options when it comes to dealing with not being able to afford the payments.

As of right now the general rule of private student loans is the lender does not have to offer any help or allowances at all. Unlike federal student loans, private lenders don't do a whole lot to help people in trouble.

While they might have some temporary programs to reduce or forgo the monthly payments these programs typically just increase the balances owed on the loans and make them that much more unaffordable in the long run.

Since these loans are with Sallie Mae it does not mean there is not some potential federal component that might get you into one of the true federal student loan forgiveness programs, as you are already aware of. I would suggest you click here for more info on how to identify if your loans might be eligible.

To get rid of the cosigner you'd either need the current loan holders permission or refinance the loans. There is a consortium of credit unions out there that will refinance some loans but only for people who completed their degrees and only at some schools. The bigger issue here is you've already demonstrated you can't make the payments so realistically it would be unlikely you'd qualify for a replacement loan.

Beware, there are many new student loan assistance scams springing up claiming they can magically make your loans vanish. Before you leap for such a sales pitch make sure you absolutely read this.


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