The sad reality is that parents who tragically lose a child often have a lot more to deal with than just making funeral arrangements and grieving over their loss. That’s because parents can be required to pay off their deceased child’s debts. This is a particular problem in New Jersey, where existing state law allows the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to continue pursuing payment for student loan debts from the parents of a borrower even after the borrower has died.
New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) is a state-run organization that provides assistance to students in the form of loans to help the students pay college costs that are not already covered by other sources of grants, scholarships, and loans. However, NJCLASS does not currently forgive student loans in the event of the student’s untimely death. Moreover, it has been claimed that NJCLASS aggressively pursues payment of outstanding debts – something that can be particularly upsetting and harmful to a parent who recently lost their child.
The bill approved by the state legislature directs HESAA to forgive NJCLASS student loans when the borrower dies. The bill passed by a vote of 33-1 in the Senate and by a vote of 67-0 in the Assembly.
Although both the NJ Assembly and the NJ Senate passed the bill, it did undergo a few minor revisions. As a result, the bill will still need to be approved once again by the Senate. However, Senate approval is viewed as largely a formality at this point. Once the revised bill is approved, it will head to the desk of NJ Governor Chris Christie. If the governor signs off on the bill, it will become the law of the land in New Jersey.
Someone who loses a child already has to deal with an unspeakably awful situation that no one should ever be faced with. NJ legislators have recognized the inherent unfairness of also making these grieving parents pay off the outstanding student loans of their children. Assuming Governor Christie approves the law, parents in New Jersey will no longer be forced to assume the student loan debts of their kids in these situations.
For more information, read the Asbury Park Press article, “Overhaul Coming on NJ Student Loan Forgiveness.”
If you or your child is struggling under a mountain of student loan debt, you should talk to a qualified debt management attorney. Joel R. Spivack, Esq., is an experienced debt relief lawyer who is prepared to help you explore your best options for getting out of debt. Contact Mr. Spivack today to schedule a free consultation.