The state agency that oversees student loan repayments — were explicitly instructed not to mention the office’s policies on debt forgiveness
New Jersey, the same state that forced a grieving mother to make student debt payments on behalf of her murdered son, has tried to hide its loan forgiveness program from relatives of deceased debtors, according to newly leaked documents first reported by ProPublica.
Records show staffers at New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority — the state agency that oversees student loan repayments — were explicitly instructed not to mention the office’s policies on debt forgiveness for cosigners or co-borrowers when the original borrower passed away.
In an email from May, a HESAA program officer wrote:
Families of deceased borrowers (or surviving cosigners) must inquire if HESAA has a policy on loan forgiveness. We should not be volunteering this information.
Similar instructions were sent to staff in 2013.
Responding to the controversy, the agency countered in a written statement the uncovered messages “do not accurately reflect the authority’s policy or practice on loan forgiveness.” The group also pointed out that New Jersey has forgiven the cosigners of 35 people who died or became disabled since 2012 — though it’s not clear how many people could have been released if they had simply known to ask.
The agency also said staff have been retrained on the policies regarding deceased borrowers since the emails were sent, though there’s no written record of the retraining, as it was handled “in person.”…