Kelly Bullis: Grandparents, never co-sign on a student loan

You know what gets me mad? What makes me want to run up to the top of “C” Hill and scream at the top of my lungs? It’s when somebody does something (either ignorantly or intentionally) to senior citizens that jeopardizes their retirement assets.

Did you know that student loans cannot be released in bankruptcy? Did you know that “Grandma and Grandpa” are the No. 1 targets by lenders to have them co-sign on student loans, because they have assets and excellent credit ratings? Sounds innocent and loving enough. You want the grandkids to get a college education, right?

Well, the average student loan balance to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in anything is about $50,000, but many are higher than $100,000.

Too many students are having trouble finding a job after graduating, leaving them unable to make payments on their student loans. Guess who those “nice” lenders pursue with a vengeance to get those loans paid? That’s right! Now Grandma and Grandpa are receiving threatening phone calls from nasty bill collector types, threatening legal action if they don’t pay up.

Some seniors have lost their retirement plans, homes, etc., to satisfy that unexpected “co-signed” student loan repayment requirement. They usually are on tight budgets and can not afford adding $500 and up a month in payments to their outflow, let alone paying the back payments in full, which can amount to several thousand dollars.

So, what is the solution here? Grandparents, stop co-signing on loans! If you have the means and you want to help out, make gifts to your grandchild by directly paying for tuition or books, etc.

Students, stop asking your Grandma and/or Grandpa to co-sign. Want to go to college? Find a way to get scholarships, grants, etc. Get a job (like fighting fires in the summer). Use GI Bill assistance by joining the military. Go to an in-state school with significantly lower tuition. Live at home while attending college. Get a part-time job (if fast-food businesses are hiring illegal immigrants, it’s because nobody else is applying for the job) to help defray costs rather than goofing off between classes. Get a full-time job and go to night school. Stop borrowing to go to college. Isn’t life tough? Yup! Time to own up and pay your own way rather than have it handed to you on a silver platter.

I know I’m gonna get angry responses from students telling me sob stories, but for every one of those cry-baby students, I can find a real-life heart-breaking story from a senior citizen who is now struggling because he or she is stuck paying somebody else’s student loan.

Did you hear? “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’!”

Kelly Bullis is a certified public accountant in Carson City. He can be contacted at 775-882-4459, via or on Facebook.


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