College Loan Forgiveness: When Student Dies, Should Parents Have to Pay?

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Co-signers are usually responsible for the debt obligations of the deceased. But a student loan may be eligible for cancellation due to death depending on the guarantor, loan type, and terms of the loan, according to Sallie Mae, a provider of federal and private loans. Federal student loans have historically provided loan forgiveness in the case of death, according to Downs.

Roark said he now hopes for a cure for the cancer that his daughter fought. He is continuing to raise money for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation through a community fundraiser this weekend in Kansas.

He also advises other families who are dealing with their children's estates to take heed when communicating with financial institutions, including taking down names of employees and dates of conversations.

"It's something you have to be vigilant about. You have to take notes or it won't go away," said Roark. "Eventually it was all taken care of. It's all behind us now."

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