Ella Edwards’ son died in 2009 at the age of 24. Prior to his death, he studied music production in college. He had three student loans, which Edwards says she was “happy to cosign” in order for him to pursue his career of choice. Now that he’s gone, two of the loans — administered by the federal government — were quickly forgiven. But the administrators of the private loan are still pursuing her for re-payment of the outstanding balance, more than $10,000.
“That’s when American Education Services (AES) and National Collegiate Trust (NCT) turned my son’s dream into a nightmare for me and the two year old son he left behind,” she writes in a Change.org petition that she started to get the loan forgiven. “Jermaine was my only child, and after his death, I was so devastated I could barely get out of bed in the morning. I requested an early retirement from my job, losing much needed retirement benefits.” Are these loan companies serious?
She has amassed more than 20,000 signatures so far. She’s 61 years old and is trying to make the money to make good on the loan, but her depression is a hindrance. Furthermore, the mother of her grandson can’t help.
“Edwards told ABC she decided to start the petition to demand a change in the laws surrounding student loans, and to warn other parents what they might be getting into if they take out a private loan,” ABC News reports (h/t Global Grind).
If you have a soul, this story touches every single nerve in it. But even more than the emotional nature of the story is the issue of student loan indebtedness. InsideHigherEd reported a few weeks back that the “rhetoric of crisis” the media has used to describe the amount of student loan debt might be a little over the top (“…the majority of households owed less than $14,000. However, about 10 percent of households owed more than $62,000. About 850,000 loans are currently in default”), focusing on horror stories of “outliers” who don’t represent the norm. But women, lower-income homes, and minorities are being hit harder than other demographics. In addition, younger people (under age 45) are carrying 70 percent of the debt.
“Students of color tend to borrow more and to have higher unemployment rates, and they are less likely to graduate compared to white peers. For example, about 27 percent of African-American bachelor’s-degree recipients had debt of $30,500 or higher compared to 16 percent of their white peers, according to a 2010 study by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center,” the story reports.
Either way, for sheer humanity’s sake, this private loan should be forgiven. Let this poor woman grieve in peace.
*Update (12/4): Tom Joyner has offered to pay for this loan, reports RNBPhilly.com. (Thanks for the heads up to our Facebook friend EarthyGirls Trapp.)