Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sign the Petition: KeyBank forces deceased son's family to pay student loans

In the past week alone, national media outlets have highlighted the growing student loan debt crisis in America, particularly private loans without bankruptcy options. In 2011, student loan debt ($1 trillion) has already outpaced credit card and auto loan debt. Even after bankruptcy, many borrowers are still trapped because a 2005 congressional law made it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debt. It's time to take a stand against the tyranny of debt slavery and support movements like Occupy Student Debt.

Since today is May Day (in honor of the international labor movement), I want to bring your attention to this disturbing news and how you can get involved. Here are the details of the petition:
You see, our dad cosigned Christopher's private student loans with Key Bank. When Christopher died, Key Bank came after my dad to get their money back. Our dad has had to come out of retirement to make the monthly payments. When Christopher died, my family didn't just lose a loved one -- we inherited debt for an education that will never be used.

Key Bank's action's are dramatically out of step with the status quo. The federal government and even large private student lenders like Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo all forgive student loans once the borrower dies. But over the years, Key Bank has ignored our calls to take this humane step.

In the years since Christopher's death, my family has tried to keep others from facing what we have. We've worked with members of Congress to pass "Christopher's Law," which would make sure student borrowers and their families know exactly what could happen if they die or become disabled, and we've started a website about our efforts to get Christopher's Law passed (http://chrisbryski.blogspot.com).

Please support this family by telling KeyBank and other private student loan lenders that they cannot continue to collect money from the deceased! This is an extreme form of economic injustice on the working class. You can help make a difference by supporting the Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act, which requires private lenders to clearly explain the responsibilities of co-signers in the event of death or disability.

UPDATE [05/03/2012]: Hansen Clarke (D-MI) announced the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. "If you make payments equal to 10% of your discretionary income for 10 years, your remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven." You can read the brief summary here.

UPDATE [05/10/2012]: In early May, KeyBank finally decides to forgive the deceased son's private student loans: Since 2006, the family has paid $20,000 of the $50,000 balance. It took an awful lot of negative publicity, but Key says that they will forgive the debt, and might not even put future families in the same terrible situation.

"Going forward, we will evaluate any similar situation involving a deceased student with outstanding loans - and we sincerely hope there are none - on a case-by-case basis," a Key representative told the Newark Star-Ledger.

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