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

Wells Fargo sent 3 letters a week to collect $6,000 for dead student's loan.

February 10, 2011, 2:36 PM

Feb. 11, 2011 — -- When John Roark's 26-year-old daughter Jessica died of cancer last August, he went about the sad task of tending to matters related to her death, including finding a burial plot and tombstone and forwarding her mail.

"I kind of took things over when my daughter passed," said Roark. "Everyone was in disarray."

He eventually had to settle matters with three lenders related to her college student loans, though he had not co-signed for them. Even after sending her death certificate to one lender, Wells Fargo, he says he received three letters a week from the bank to collect about $6,000.

The other two lenders, Sallie Mae and a Missouri student loan company, expressed their sympathy for the death of his daughter when they forgave the loans, said Roark.

"They were pretty understanding and sorry for my loss," he said.

However, he said Wells Fargo was "persistent" in trying to collect his daughter's debts from him.

The increasing cost of college tuition has led to increasing number of students who must borrow for their education. The amount of outstanding student loans in the U.S. is approximately $888 billion, according to

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