Originally Published: September 8, 2017 5:59 a.m.
Dear Annie: My 28-year-old son, “Jerry,” will not pay his college loan bill — which is $85,000 — even though he has a good job.
Jerry insisted that he had to go to an out-of-state college. Our agreement was that my husband and I would cover an amount equal to what an in-state school would’ve cost and that Jerry would pay the difference when he finished school. The total student loan started out at $130,000, and we have paid it down to $85,000. My husband, his stepfather, co-signed for it, and we have been stuck with paying it for seven years. It turns out that Jerry didn’t even finish his degree.
He flunked out of school and then lied to us about it.
Despite our repeated efforts to talk to Jerry about this, he ignores us. It has caused such heartbreak. He wouldn’t even let us visit and meet our only granddaughter for over a year because he doesn’t want to talk to us — just in case we bring up the loan.
I am 66, and my husband is 59. We are looking forward to retiring in two years, but we have this student loan hanging over our heads. We both work for nonprofits, so our income is certainly limited. Our son has bought two houses, bought two new cars, gotten married and had a child and still won’t pay this loan. I have no idea what he has told his wife, but I’m sure it’s not the truth.
We have talked with an attorney, but I hate to have to sue my son. He never calls, visits or acknowledges our birthdays or Christmas — yet he adores his in-laws and his friends from college. He calls them his “college family.” I am so fed up with this situation. I am really tired of spending therapy money talking about this. I have sent presents and cards and tried my best to be a good mother and grandmother — but to no avail. Should I just go ahead with the attorney? Any help would be so appreciated. — Sad and Over It, With Empty Pockets
Dear Empty Pockets: Let’s see whether I’ve got this straight: Your son agrees to pay part of his student loans, persuades your husband to co-sign the note for his loan, drops out of college and then lies to you and your husband about it. You and your husband have paid tens of thousands of dollars on the note, while your son has paid zero, but because you protected his credit rating, he was able to buy two houses and two cars. Is that right?
Obviously, he harbors a great deal of resentment against you, and refusing to talk about the situation — while he does nothing to own up to his obligations — only reinforces his permanent pout. Yes, I would recommend hiring a lawyer, if for no other reason than to force him to talk about it. Don’t sue him unless you have to, but a strong letter from an attorney could at least bring him to the negotiating table. Your only hope is to start communicating, even if you have to force your son to the initial conversation.
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