With the rising cost of college tuition, more students are turning to private student loans to help bridge the gap between what is offered through financial aid and what they can pay out of pocket and their actual college costs.. Unfortunately, most young people have a limited credit and employment history, which means they will be unable to secure a private student loan on their own. In general, most lenders require students to have a credit-worthy cosigner before they will be approved for financing. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be related to the borrower (student), but parents and other family members often step up to help out. But, being a cosigner can be risky. If the borrower fails to make payments, the cosigner will be legally obligated to repay the debt. There may even be some risk for the borrower, as well. For example, should the cosigner die or file for bankruptcy before the loan is paid in full, the student loan servicer may place the loan in default and demand that the balance be paid in full, even if all payments have been made on time. Plus, removing a cosigner from a private student loan is not always an easy process. There are two primary ways a cosigner can be freed of their obligations under the promissory note they signed:
Many banks and lenders offer cosigners the opportunity to be released from a private student loan, but borrowers need to be sure the option is available before consummating the loan. Those that do offer this escape clause typically require borrowers to make a minimum number of consecutive, on-time payments (usually between 24 and 48 months). Borrowers must also provide evidence that they have sufficient monthly income to cover the payments, and generally must submit to another credit check. Most lenders provide a form that must be completed, as well. If a borrower already has a taken a loan that was cosigned by another individual, he/she will need to contact the loan’s service to find out if obtaining a release for the cosigner is an available option and, if so, what steps need to be taken for the cosigner to be removed from the loan.
For those who do not have the option of obtaining a cosigner release, refinancing or consolidating their loans may be the only way to remove a cosigner from his/her obligation. Borrowers will need to have a good credit history, stable employment, and enough income to cover the monthly payments on their own in order to refinance or consolidate their loans. Basically, this allows borrowers to pay off their previous debt and releases cosigners from any further obligation. The original loan will, however, remain on the cosigner’s credit history, but will indicate that the loan is closed and paid in full.
If neither of these options is available, cosigners should do their best to ensure payments are being made on time until the debt is paid in full. This may require them to even pitch in now and then, but it’s better than finding out that their credit has been ruined due to several late payments being reported to the credit bureaus, or worse, being required to pay late fees, penalties, and collection costs because the loan went into default status.