New Jersey Resident Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti went through one of the most trialing experiences a mother can have: her son was murdered in 2015. The emotional hardship from the loss is mostly unfathomable by many except those who have gone through the same. There is one other glaring aspect about this story that must be noted. She is being forced by the state of New Jersey to pay off her late son’s student loans.
Kevin DeOlveira attended the University of Vermont until his murder in January of 2015. In order to cover his tuition, Kevin took out student loans from the federal government as well as from New Jersey. His mother was the co-signer to these loans. Upon his death, Mrs. DeOliveira-Longinetti applied for student loan forgiveness given the circumstances. The outstanding federal loans were forgiven; however, the loans from the state of New Jersey did not “meet the threshold for loan forgiveness” according to the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.
Consequently, Marcia got slammed by thousands of dollars in student loan debt despite her son’s death. While this sounds a bit absurd, it is apparently a trend with borrowers and the state of New Jersey.
The NJ Higher Education Assistance Authority is referred to as a “state-sanctioned loan-sharking” organization from bankruptcy lawyers. It has a reputation for having much stricter rules compared to other states; additionally, it seems to enjoy considerable authority over its borrowers. It offers little aid to borrowers suffering financially, offers only high interest rates, and limits payment adjustment options. On top of this, it has the authority to garnish wages and seize tax refunds without any sort of court approval.
There have been other cases involving loan forgiveness and the state of New Jersey. One borrower was diagnosed with cancer, and he or she attempted to defer payments on student loans. This action was not approved by New Jersey which led to the cancer patient being sued for over a quarter million dollars.
Other cases involve people being sued by the state who file for bankruptcy and other deferments. At any rate, it is apparent that the New Jerseys Higher Education Assistance Authority does not provide much leeway for its borrowers as it rules with an iron fist. Despite an inviting home website, the lending organization has a reputation for harsh lending services and practices.
Update: The New Jersey government has now passed a law to forgive the debt of deceased borrowers. Learn more here.